Intermediate filaments (IFs), in addition to microtubules and microfilaments, are one of the three major components of the cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells, playing a vital role in mechanotransduction and in providing mechanical stability to cells (Figure 1) [1]. Despite the importance of IF mechanics for cell biology and cell mechanics, the structural basis for their mechanical properties remains unknown. Specifically, our understanding of fundamental filament properties, such as the basis for their great extensibility, stiffening properties, and their exceptional mechanical resilience remains limited. This has prevented us from answering fundamental structure-function relationship questions related to the biomechanical role of intermediate filaments, which is crucial to link structure and function in the protein material’s biological context.

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