Alison E. Patteson: 0000-0002-4004-1734

Document Type



Spring 6-9-2022


intermediate filaments, vimentin, compression-stiffening, AFM, compressive stress




National Science Center of Poland, National Science Foundation Division of Materials Research, National Science Foundation Center for Theoretical Biological Physics

Funding ID

UMO-2020/01/0/NZ6/00082, UMO- 2017/26/D/ST4/00997, RPOWP 2007-2013, DMR-1826623, PHY2019745, NSF-16 DMR-1720530, NIH R35 GM136259, NIH R35 GM142963

Official Citation

Katarzyna Pogoda, Fitzroy Byfield, Piotr Deptuła, Mateusz Cieśluk, Łukasz Suprewicz, Karol Skłodowski, Jordan L. Shivers, Anne van Oosten, Katrina Cruz, Ekaterina Tarasovetc, Ekaterina L. Grishchuk, Fred C. Mackintosh, Robert Bucki, Alison E. Patteson, and Paul A. Janmey Nano Letters 2022 22 (12), 4725-4732 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.2c00736




In this work, we investigate whether stiffening in compression is a feature of single cells and whether the intracellular polymer networks that comprise the cytoskeleton (all of which stiffen with increasing shear strain) stiffen or soften when subjected to compressive strains. We find that individual cells, such as fibroblasts, stiffen at physiologically relevant compressive strains, but genetic ablation of vimentin diminishes this effect. Further, we show that unlike networks of purified F-actin or microtubules, which soften in compression, vimentin intermediate filament networks stiffen in both compression and extension, and we present a theoretical model to explain this response based on the flexibility of vimentin filaments and their surface charge, which resists volume changes of the network under compression. These results provide a new framework by which to understand the mechanical responses of cells and point to a central role of intermediate filaments in response to compression.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Physics Commons