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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.

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

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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