Vimentin is an intermediate filament protein that plays key roles in integration of cytoskeletal functions, and therefore in basic cellular processes such as cell division and migration. Consequently, vimentin has complex implications in pathophysiology. Vimentin is required for a proper immune response, but it can also act as an autoantigen in autoimmune diseases or as a damage signal. Although vimentin is a predominantly cytoplasmic protein, it can also appear at extracellular locations, either in a secreted form or at the surface of numerous cell types, often in relation to cell activation, inflammation, injury or senescence. Cell surface targeting of vimentin appears to associate with the occurrence of certain posttranslational modifications, such as phosphorylation and/or oxidative damage. At the cell surface, vimentin can act as a receptor for bacterial and viral pathogens. Indeed, vimentin has been shown to play important roles in virus attachment and entry of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV), dengue and encephalitis viruses, among others. Moreover, the presence of vimentin in specific virus-targeted cells and its induction by proinflammatory cytokines and tissue damage contribute to its implication in viral infection. Here, we recapitulate some of the pathophysiological implications of vimentin, including the involvement of cell surface vimentin in interaction with pathogens, with a special focus on its role as a cellular receptor or co-receptor for viruses. In addition, we provide a perspective on approaches to target vimentin, including antibodies or chemical agents that could modulate these interactions to potentially interfere with viral pathogenesis, which could be useful when multi-target antiviral strategies are needed.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited