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Ingo Thievessen


Ingo Thievessen

  • Job title: Post-Doc/Projectleader
  • Working group: Biophysics Group
  • Address:
    Room 02.074
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85-25606
  • Email:

The role of vinculin in coordinating cellular morphodynamics, force generation and ECM remodeling during cell migration in 2D and 3D environments

Coordinated cell migration is critical for tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis, and requires the integration of actin cytoskeleton based force generation and cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) through integrin adhesion receptors. How force generation and ECM-adhesion affect cell motility has mainly been studied using two-dimensional (2D) cell culture substrates, which cannot recapitulate the mechanics of cell migration in vivo, where cells have to overcome the steric hindrance of the ECM to move forward. Three-dimensional (3D) matrices of collagen, fibrin, or cell-derived matrices are being used more frequently. However, how traction force generation, ECM-adhesion and physical parameters of the ECM influence cell migration in 3D environments still remains unclear, and can vary fundamentally between different cell types.

The coordinated migration of cells in vivo is often associated with a remodeling of the ECM, which modulates haptic and mechanical guidance cues for the cells. In turn, excessive ECM-remodeling may promote cell motility in pathological conditions such as cancer metastasis. Cell motion and ECM-remodeling both depend on cellular traction forces, allowing cells to move forward and apply tension to remodel the ECM, suggesting a role for ECM-traction force generation in coordinating cell motion and ECM-remodeling. It remains unknown, however, which cytoskeleton and adhesion proteins are required to coordinate the remodeling of complex 3D matrices.

The adhesion protein vinculin is present in cell-cell junctions and in focal adhesions (FA), where it links filamentous (F-) actin to the integrin-binding protein talin to transmit forces between actin cytoskeleton and ECM. Vinculin reduces cell migration on 2D substrates. In addition, vinculin expression is reduced in a number of human tumors, and cancer cells overexpressing vinculin show reduced metastatic capacity when injected into nude mice, suggesting that vinculin may also inhibit cell migration in vivo. However, vinculin seems to affect 3D cell migration fundamentally different from 2D cell migration, as it promotes the invasion of fibroblasts into 3D collagen gels. It remains unclear though, how vinculin facilitates cell invasion into collagen. The collagen invasiveness of different cancer cells correlated with the strain energy amounts generated by the cells, with the strain energy field anisotropy, and cell shape anisotropy . Vinculin affects both cell morphology and force generation on 2D substrates, suggesting that vinculin may also promote collagen invasion by modulating force generation and cell shape. It is not known, however, how vinculin affects cell morphodynamics, traction force generation, or ECM remodeling in complex 3D environments.

We characterize the effects of vinculin gene disruption on cell migration, morphodynamics, force generation and ECM-remodeling of primary murine embryonic fibroblast (MEF) on 2D substrates and in 3D collagen I culture.

Dr. rer. nat.,summa cum laude, 10/2002 – 04/2007. Mouse Genetics/Cell Biology. Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried/Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Germany. Prof. Dr. med. Reinhard Faessler

Dipl. Biol., 10/1996 – 04/2002. Cell Biology/Biochemistry/Physics. Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Germany. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Schulz

Scientific Assistant, 03/2012 – present. Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair for Biophysics, Biophysics Group. Prof. Dr. Ben Fabry. Project: The role of vinculin in morphodynamics and force generation of primary murine embryonic fibroblasts and endothelial cells in 3D collagen matrices and in vivo

Postdoctoral Fellow, 09/2007 – 02/2012. National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health, Cell Biology and Physiology Center, Laboratory of Cell and Tissue Morphodynamics. Prof. Dr. Clare M. Waterman, Ph.D.. Project: The role of vinculin in actin based force generation by focal adhesions in migrating primary murine embryonic fibroblasts

Postdoctoral Fellow, 05/2007 – 08/2007. The Scripps Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology, Cell Motility Group. Prof. Dr. Clare M. Waterman, Ph.D.. Project: The role of vinculin in actin based force generation by focal adhesions in migrating primary murine embryonic fibroblasts

Doctoral Student, 10/2002 – 04/2007. Department of Molecular Medicine, Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried. Prof. Dr. med. Reinhard Faessler. Project: Functional analysis of focal adhesion proteins of the parvin family by knockout in the mouse

Diploma Student, 03/2001 – 03/2002. Research Laboratory of the Urological Clinic, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang A. Schulz. Project: Basic and inducible activities of the Wnt- and Hedgehog-signaltransduction pathways in normal and transformed uroepithelial cells

Undergraduate Student, 03/2000 – 12/2000. Department of Cell Biology, Institute of Zoomorphology, Cell Biology and Parasitology, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Jochen D´Haese. Project: Identification of flea populations by sequence analysis of the internal ribosomal spacer region 1

Course Assistant “Biomedical Imaging”, Department of Physics, Biophysics Group, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuermberg. 2014

Course Assistant “Experimental Physics”, Department of Physics, Biophysics Group, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg. 2012/2013

Teaching Assistant “Physiology Course”, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. 2011

Teaching Assistant “Optical Microscopy and Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences”, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. 2007

Course Assistant “Animal Morphology”, Institute of Zoomorphology, Cell Biology and Parasitology, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf. 2000

Projektleiter nach GenTSV, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuermberg, Chair for Physical and Medical Technology. 2013

Attendance at laboratory safety/operational courses, Projektleiter nach GenTSV, Sondermuell, Brandgefahren. 2013

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Fellows Advisory Committee Member, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda. 2010-2012

American Society for Cell Biology Member, since 2007

Travel Grant, 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, New Orleans, 2013

Travel Grant, Swedish Association for Cytoskeleton Research meeting “The Cytoskeleton in Development and Pathology”, Federation of the Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FEBS)”. 2010

Fellows Award for Research Excellence 2010, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda. 2009

[24] Alexander B. Tesler, Lucia H. Prado, Ingo Thievessen, Anca Mazare, Patrik Schmuki, Sannakaisa Virtanen, Wolfgang H. Goldmann
Nontoxic Liquid-Infused Slippery Coating Prepared on Steel Substrates Inhibits Corrosion and Biofouling Adhesion
In ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2022. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[23] Ingo Thievessen, Frank Suhr, Silvia Vergarajauregui, Ralph T. Böttcher, Klara Brixius, Georg Rosenberger, Oliver Dewald, Bernd K. Fleischmann, Alexander Ghanem, Marcus Krüger, Felix B. Engel, Ben Fabry, Wilhelm Bloch, Reinhard Fässler
The focal adhesion protein β-parvin controls cardiomyocyte shape and sarcomere assembly in response to mechanical load
In Current Biology, 2022. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[22] Marina Spörrer, Delf Kah, Richard C. Gerum, Barbara Reischl, Danyil Huraskin, Claire A. Dessalles, Werner Schneider, Wolfgang H. Goldmann, Harald Herrmann, Ingo Thievessen, Christoph S. Clemen, Oliver Friedrich, Said Hashemolhosseini, Rolf Schröder, Ben Fabry
The desmin mutation R349P increases contractility and fragility of stem cell-generated muscle micro-tissues
In Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology, volume 48, 2022. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[21] Sankaranarayanan Sivakumar, Rafael Schmid, Annalena Wieland, Pamela L. Strissel, Reiner Strick, Lena Fischer, Ingo Thievessen, Elmar Kataev, Andreas Arkudas, Raymund E. Horch, Dirk W. Schubert, Annika Kengelbach-Weigand
Role of Fiber Thickness and Surface Treatment of Electrospun Polycaprolactone Matrices on the Growth of Different Breast Cancer-Associated Cells
In Advanced Materials Interfaces, volume n/a, 2022. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[20] R. Schmid, S. K. Schmidt, R. Detsch, H. Horder, T. Blunk, S. Schrufer, D. W. Schubert, L. Fischer, I. Thievessen, S. Heltmann-Meyer, D. Steiner, D. Schneidereit, O. Friedrich, A. Gruneboom, H. Amouei, H. Wajant, R. E. Horch, A. K. Bosserhoff, A. Arkudas, A. Kengelbach-Weigand
A New Printable Alginate/Hyaluronic Acid/Gelatin Hydrogel Suitable for Biofabrication of In Vitro and In Vivo Metastatic Melanoma Models
In Advanced Functional Materials, volume 32, 2022. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[19] L. Hahn, M. Beudert, M. Gutmann, L. Kessler, P. Stahlhut, L. Fischer, E. Karakaya, T. Lorson, I. Thievessen, R. Detsch, T. Luhmann, R. Luxenhofer
From Thermogelling Hydrogels toward Functional Bioinks: Controlled Modification and Cytocompatible Crosslinking
In Macromol Biosci, volume 21, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[18] M. Angeloni, I. Thievessen, F. B. Engel, P. Magni, F. Ferrazzi
Functional genomics meta-analysis to identify gene set enrichment networks in cardiac hypertrophy
In Biol Chem, volume 402, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[17] Melanie Kappelmann-Fenzl, Sonja K. Schmidt, Stefan Fischer, Rafael Schmid, Lisa Lämmerhirt, Lena Fischer, Stefan Schrüfer, Ingo Thievessen, Dirk W. Schubert, Alexander Matthies, Rainer Detsch, Aldo R. Boccaccini, Andreas Arkudas, Annika Kengelbach-Weigand, Anja K. Bosserhoff
Molecular Changes Induced in Melanoma by Cell Culturing in 3D Alginate Hydrogels
In Cancers, volume 13, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf]
[16] David Sonnleitner, Natascha Schäfer, Annalena Wieland, Lena Fischer, Patrick Pasberg, Ingo Thievessen, Gregor Lang
PCL micro-dumbbells – A new class of polymeric particles reveals morphological biofunctionality
In Applied Materials Today, volume 24, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[15] Andreas Bauer, Magdalena Prechová, Lena Fischer, Ingo Thievessen, Martin Gregor, Ben Fabry
pyTFM: A tool for traction force and monolayer stress microscopy
In PLOS Computational Biology, volume 17, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[14] Alexander B. Tesler, Lucia H. Prado, Marat M. Khusniyarov, Ingo Thievessen, Anca Mazare, Lena Fischer, Sannakaisa Virtanen, Wolfgang H. Goldmann, Patrik Schmuki
A One-Pot Universal Approach to Fabricate Lubricant-Infused Slippery Surfaces on Solid Substrates
In Advanced Functional Materials, volume n/a, 2021. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[13] Emine Karakya, Lena Fischer, Jonas Hazur, Aldo R Boccaccini, Ingo Thievessen, Rainer Detsch
Strategies to evaluate alginate based bioinks applying extrusion printing for biofabrication
In Transactions on Additive Manufacturing Meets Medicine, volume 2, 2020. [bibtex] [pdf]
[12] Silvia Vergarajauregui, Robert Becker, Ulrike Steffen, Maria Sharkova, Tilman Esser, Jana Petzold, Florian Billing, Michael S. Kapiloff, George Schett, Ingo Thievessen, Felix B. Engel
AKAP6 orchestrates the nuclear envelope microtubule-organizing center by linking golgi and nucleus via AKAP9
In eLife, volume 9, 2020. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[11] Marina Sporrer, Ania Prochnicki, Regine C. Tölle, Alexander Nyström, Philipp R. Esser, Melanie Homberg, Ioannis Athanasiou, Eleni Zingkou, Achim Schilling, Richard Gerum, Ingo Thievessen, Lilli Winter, Leena Bruckner-Tuderman, Ben Fabry, Thomas M. Magin, Jörn Dengjel, Rolf Schröder, Dimitra Kiritsi
Treatment of keratinocytes with 4-phenylbutyrate in epidermolysis bullosa: Lessons for therapies in keratin disorders
In EBioMedicine, volume 44, 2019. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[10] J. Steinwachs, C. Metzner, K. Skodzek, N. Lang, I. Thievessen, C. Mark, S. Munster, K. E. Aifantis, B. Fabry
Three-dimensional force microscopy of cells in biopolymer networks
In Nat Methods, volume 13, 2016. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[9] I. Thievessen, N. Fakhri, J. Steinwachs, V. Kraus, R. S. McIsaac, L. Gao, B. C. Chen, M. A. Baird, M. W. Davidson, E. Betzig, R. Oldenbourg, C. M. Waterman, B. Fabry
Vinculin is required for cell polarization, migration, and extracellular matrix remodeling in 3D collagen
In FASEB J, volume 29, 2015. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[8] W. H. Goldmann, V. Auernheimer, I. Thievessen, B. Fabry
Vinculin, cell mechanics and tumour cell invasion
In Cell Biol Int, volume 37, 2013. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[7] I. Thievessen, P. M. Thompson, S. Berlemont, K. M. Plevock, S. V. Plotnikov, A. Zemljic-Harpf, R. S. Ross, M. W. Davidson, G. Danuser, S. L. Campbell, C. M. Waterman
Vinculin-actin interaction couples actin retrograde flow to focal adhesions, but is dispensable for focal adhesion growth
In J Cell Biol, volume 202, 2013. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[6] A. M. Manso, S. M. Kang, S. V. Plotnikov, I. Thievessen, J. Oh, H. E. Beggs, R. S. Ross
Cardiac Fibroblasts Require Focal Adhesion Kinase for Normal Proliferation and Migration
In Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol, volume 296, 2009. [bibtex] [pdf]
[5] Marcus Krüger, Markus Moser, Siegfried Ussar, Ingo Thievessen, Christian A. Luber, Francesca Forner, Sarah Schmidt, Sara Zanivan, Reinhard Fässler, Matthias Mann
SILAC Mouse for Quantitative Proteomics Uncovers Kindlin-3 as an Essential Factor for Red Blood Cell Function
In Cell, volume 134, 2008. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[4] Haiyan Chu, Ingo Thievessen, Michael Sixt, Tim Lämmermann, Ari Waisman, Attila Braun, Angelika A. Noegel, Reinhard Fässler
γ-Parvin Is Dispensable for Hematopoiesis, Leukocyte Trafficking, and T-Cell-Dependent Antibody Response
In Molecular and Cellular Biology, volume 26, 2006. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[3] Ingo Thievessen, Marietta Wolter, Andrea Prior, Hans-Helge Seifert, Wolfgang A. Schulz
Hedgehog signaling in normal urothelial cells and in urothelial carcinoma cell lines
In Journal of Cellular Physiology, volume 203, 2005. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[2] C. Grashoff, I. Thievessen, K. Lorenz, S. Ussar, R. Fassler
Integrin-linked kinase: integrin's mysterious partner
In Curr Opin Cell Biol, volume 16, 2004. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]
[1] Sandra Swiatkowski, Hans-Helge Seifert, Christine Steinhoff, Andrea Prior, Ingo Thievessen, Freimut Schliess, Wolfgang A. Schulz
Activities of MAP-Kinase Pathways in Normal Uroepithelial Cells and Urothelial Carcinoma Cell Lines
In Experimental Cell Research, volume 282, 2003. [bibtex] [pdf] [doi]