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Mechanics of cells: the role of intermediate filaments

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 MECHANICS project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the MECHANICS project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "MECHANICS" about.

point    function    microtubules    variability    building    physics    decipher    reflected    combination    poorly    cancer    extensibility    health    stiff    tissue    cell    migrate    experiments    models    resolution    architecture    situ    metastasis    family    largely    flexibility    perfectly    imaging    filaments    soft    structure    stress    players    filament    mechanical    wealth    extreme    body    termed    viscoelastic    material    embryogenesis    temporal    behavior    units    vitro    intermediate    ranging    200    view    wound    stationary    variety    human    composite    astonishing    blocks    manner    hierarchical    ifs    cells    expressed    disease    direct    actin    despite    remarkable    self    cartilage    relationship    organize    cytoskeleton    molecular    profiles    structural    members    healing    brain    genetic    types    modifications    charge    collectively    predict    link    protein    begin    model    surprisingly    interactions    feed    strategic    mechanics    of    encoded    complexity    small   

Project "MECHANICS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 37073

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 2˙413˙250 €
 EC max contribution 2˙413˙250 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2016-COG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2017
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2017-05-01   to  2022-04-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The mechanical properties of each of the over 200 cell types in the human body are perfectly well adapted to their function. The large variety of viscoelastic profiles, ranging from soft brain cells to stiff cartilage, and the temporal variability in the mechanical stress response when stationary cells begin to migrate, e.g. in embryogenesis, wound healing or cancer metastasis, is reflected in a surprisingly small number of molecular building blocks. Three distinct filament systems, actin filaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments (IFs), self-organize into a wealth of structural units, collectively termed the cytoskeleton. The main molecular players of this remarkable composite material are largely known. However, from a physics point of view, in particular IFs are poorly understood, despite their importance in health and disease and astonishing mechanical properties, like extreme extensibility and high flexibility. It is not known, how these properties are encoded in the molecular interactions of the protein filament and how they feed into the mechanical behavior of a whole cell. The aim of the proposed research is thus to establish a structure-mechanics-function relationship for this important component of the cytoskeleton. The genetic complexity of the IF protein family with 70 members that are expressed in a tissue specific manner requires a strategic approach involving well-defined model systems and the combination of in vitro and cell work. Direct mechanical testing by applying stress and in situ high-resolution imaging will link mechanical properties to molecular interactions in the hierarchical IF architecture. The results of these in vitro studies will be related to cell experiments to decipher the link between IF type and cell mechanics. The work program will lead to models that predict, how modifications, e.g., in the type of IF protein or specific charge interactions, are associated with changes in cell mechanics and eventually in cell function.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Charlotta Lorenz, Johanna Forsting, Anna V. Schepers, Julia Kraxner, Susanne Bauch, Hannes Witt, Stefan Klumpp, Sarah Köster
Lateral Subunit Coupling Determines Intermediate Filament Mechanics
published pages: 188102, ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.123.188102
Physical Review Letters 123/18 2019-11-26
2019 Johanna Forsting, Julia Kraxner, Hannes Witt, Andreas Janshoff, Sarah Köster
Vimentin Intermediate Filaments Undergo Irreversible Conformational Changes during Cyclic Loading
published pages: 7349-7356, ISSN: 1530-6984, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b02972
Nano Letters 19/10 2019-11-26
2017 Johanna Block, Hannes Witt, Andrea Candelli, Erwin J. G. Peterman, Gijs J. L. Wuite, Andreas Janshoff, Sarah Köster
Nonlinear Loading-Rate-Dependent Force Response of Individual Vimentin Intermediate Filaments to Applied Strain
published pages: , ISSN: 0031-9007, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.048101
Physical Review Letters 118/4 2019-06-12
2018 Johanna Block, Hannes Witt, Andrea Candelli, Jordi Cabanas Danes, Erwin J. G. Peterman, Gijs J. L. Wuite, Andreas Janshoff, Sarah Köster
Viscoelastic properties of vimentin originate from nonequilibrium conformational changes
published pages: eaat1161, ISSN: 2375-2548, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat1161
Science Advances 4/6 2019-06-12

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