Intermediate filament proteins participate in signal transduction. Academic Article uri icon


  • How timely transport of chemical signals between the distal end of long axonal processes and the cell bodies of neurons occurs is an interesting and unresolved issue. Recently, Perlson et al. presented evidence that cleavage products of newly synthesized vimentin, an intermediate filament (IF) protein, interact with mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases at sites of axon injury. These IF fragments appear to be required for the transport of these kinases to the cell body along microtubule tracks. The truncated vimentin is instrumental in signal propagation as it provides a scaffold that brings together activated MAP kinases (such as Erk 1 and Erk2), as well as importin beta and cytoplasmic dynein. The authors propose that this all-in-one transport complex has the extraordinary ability to travel towards the cell body and enter the nucleus where the kinases activate and influence gene expression so that a neuron can generate a timely response to injury.

publication date

  • November 2005