Vera Flad

Vera Flad (Auernheimer)

DSC 0024 quer

PhD student

Room 02.074

Center for Medical Physics and Technology
Biophysics Group
Henkestrasse 91
91052 Erlangen

tel : (+49) (0)9131-85-25607;
fax: (+49) (0)9131-85-25601
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Vinculin - mechanical force transmission in focal adhesion contacts

Mechanical coupling of the actin cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix via the integrin-focal adhesion (FA) link is crucial for proper cellular function. The FA adaptor protein vinculin plays here a fundamental role in transmitting cellular forces. Vinculin displays an auto-inhibitory head-to-tail interaction, where it undergoes a transient conformational change from an open (active) to a closed (inactive) state. We study different vinculin mutants in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and measure how altered head-to-tail interactions affect cell mechanical properties.

Using the magnetic tweezer and 2D traction force microscopy, we found that vinculin in the closed state (A50I) displays lower stiffness and reduced tractions compared to vinculin in the open state (T12, E29R). We also use FRAP experiments and immunostaining to analyze the protein kinetics and focal adhesion morphology. Inserting pointmutations by site-directed mutagenesis we generate new vinculin mutants to address different questions. We focus not only on constitutively active or closed vinculin conformations but also on the influence of src-phosphorylation, PKC-phosphorylation, actin-binding or the binding to other focal adhesion proteins like p130CAS.



Curriculum Vitae

since 2010         PhD student at Biophysics Group, LPMT, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

2009 - 2010       Diploma thesis at Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, St.Ingbert

                             Thesis title: "Vergleichende Untersuchungen zur Kultivierung und Kryokonservierung von Zellen und Zellaggregaten in dreidimensionalen Kultursystemen: Neue Methoden für eine optimierte Kultur humaner embryonaler Stammzellen"

2004 - 2009       Study of biology at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

2004                    Abitur at Gymnasium Herzogenaurach




 Phosphorylation of vinculin alters mechanical cell properties

V. Auernheimer, L. A. Lautscham, B. Fabry, W. H. Goldmann

e-poster talk, Annual Meeting of the American Society of Cell Biology, 2013, New Orleans


Different aspects of vinculin activation

V. Auernheimer, L. Lautscham, B. Fabry, W.H. Goldmann

Talk, 5th European Cell Mechanics Meeting, 2013, Obergurgl


Influence of vinculin activation on mechanical cell properties

V. Auernheimer, L. Lautscham, S. Born, B. Hoffmann, B. Fabry, W.H. Goldmann

Poster, International Joint Meeting of the German Society for Cell Biology (DGZ)

and the German Society for Developmental Biology (GfE), 2013, Heidelberg


Activation and Force Transmission of Vinculin in MEFs

Auernheimer V, Janoštiak R, Brábek J, Fabry B, Goldmann WH

Talk, 4th International Symposium Interface Biology of Implants, 2012, Warnemünde


Conformational Switch of Vinculin: a Prerequisite for Mechanical Force Transmission

Auernheimer V, Fabry B, Goldmann WH

Poster, Annual Meeting of The American Society for Cell Biology, 2011, Denver


Conformational Switch of Vinculin: a Prerequisite for Mechanical Force Transmission

Auernheimer V, Fabry B, Goldmann WH

Poster, 4th European Cell Mechanics Meeting, 2011, Amsterdam


Head/Tail Interaction of Vinculin influences Cell Mechanical Behavior

Auernheimer V, Diez G, Fabry B, Goldmann WH

Poster, 34. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Zellbiologie, 2011, Bonn





Vinculin E29R mutation changes cellular mechanics

Auernheimer V., Goldmann W.H.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Sep 26;452(3):661-4


Serine phosphorylation on position 1033 of vinculin influences cell mechanical behavior

Auernheimer V., Goldmann W.H.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Jul 25;450(2):1095-8

Biomembrane-mimicking lipid bilayer system as a mechanically tunable cell substrate

Lautscham L.A., Lin C.Y., Auernheimer V., Naumann C.A., Goldmann W.H. and Fabry B.
Biomaterials. 2014 Mar;35(10):3198-207

CAS directly interacts with vinculin to control mechanosensing and focal adhesion dynamics

Janoŝtiak R., Brábek J., Auernheimer V., Tatárová Z., Lautscham L.A., Dey T., Gemperle J., Merkel R., Goldmann W.H., Fabry B. and Rösel D.

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Feb;71(4):727-44


Influence of focal adhesion kinase on the mechanical behavior of cell populations

Lange J, Auernheimer V, Strissel PL, Goldmann WH

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Jun 28;436(2):246-51


Vinculin, cell mechanics, and tumor cell invasion

Goldmann WH, Auernheimer V, Thievessen I, Fabry B.

Cell Biol Int. 2013 May;37(5):397-405


Head/Tail Intercation of Vinculin influences Cell Mechanical Behavior

Diez G, Auernheimer V, Fabry B, Goldmann WH

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communication, 406: 229-233, 2011