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Original article
The intermediate filament protein, vimentin, is a regulator of NOD2 activity
  1. Craig Stevens1,
  2. Paul Henderson1,2,
  3. Elaine R Nimmo1,
  4. Dinesh C Soares1,
  5. Belgin Dogan3,
  6. Kenneth W Simpson3,
  7. Jeffrey C Barrett4,
  8. International Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics Consortium*,
  9. David C Wilson2,
  10. Jack Satsangi1
  1. 1Centre for Molecular Medicine, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Department of Child Life and Health, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
  4. 4Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Craig Stevens, Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK; craig.stevens{at}


Objective Mutations in the nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain-containing protein 2 (NOD2) gene remain the strongest genetic determinants for Crohn's disease (CD). Having previously identified vimentin as a novel NOD2-interacting protein, the authors aimed to investigate the regulatory effects of vimentin on NOD2 function and the association of variants in Vim with CD susceptibility.

Design Coimmunoprecipitation, fluorescent microscopy and fractionation were used to confirm the interaction between NOD2 and vimentin. HEK293 cells stably expressing wild-type NOD2 or a NOD2 frameshift variant (L1007fs) and SW480 colonic epithelial cells were used alongside the vimentin inhibitor, withaferin A (WFA), to assess effects on NOD2 function using the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) reporter gene, green fluorescent protein-LC3-based autophagy, and bacterial gentamicin protection assays. International genome-wide association meta-analysis data were used to test for associations of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in Vim with CD susceptibility.

Results The leucine-rich repeat domain of NOD2 contained the elements required for vimentin binding; CD-associated polymorphisms disrupted this interaction. NOD2 and vimentin colocalised at the cell plasma membrane, and cytosolic mislocalisation of the L1007fs and R702W variants correlated with an inability to interact with vimentin. Use of WFA demonstrated that vimentin was required for NOD2-dependent NF-κB activation and muramyl dipeptide-induced autophagy induction, and that NOD2 and vimentin regulated the invasion and survival properties of a CD-associated adherent-invasive Escherichia coli strain. Genetic analysis revealed an association signal across the haplotype block containing Vim.

Conclusion Vimentin is an important regulator of NOD2 function and a potential novel therapeutic target in the treatment of CD. In addition, Vim is a candidate susceptibility gene for CD, supporting the functional data.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • NOD2
  • vimentin
  • E coli
  • autophagy
  • genetic association studies
  • IBD
  • bacterial pathogenesis
  • cell signalling
  • paediatric gastroenterology
  • immunology
  • IBD basic research
  • E coli and IBD
  • enteric bacterial microflora
  • bacterial pathogenesis
  • IBD models
  • genetics
  • immunology

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  • *

  • Access of researchers to data: All authors had open access to the raw dataset and statistical methods used during the preparation of the manuscript.

  • Funding CS is funded by a Medical Research Council project grant (No G0800759). PH is funded by a Medical Research Council project grant for PICTS (No G0800675).

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The legend for figure 3A has been amended to read: (A) SW480 cells were transfected with haemagglutinin (HA)-NOD2 (wild-type (WT)), HA-NOD2-R702W, HA-NOD2-G908R or HA-NOD2-L1007fs variants and immunostained with E-cadherin-specific antibodies (green) and exogenous NOD2 with HA-11 antibodies (red).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement A summary of the complete dataset is available on request from Dr Craig Stevens at craig.stevens{at}