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Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 115–126 | Cite as

The Role of Vinculin in the Regulation of the Mechanical Properties of Cells

  • Claudia Tanja Mierke
Original Paper

Abstract

Vinculin couples as a focal adhesion protein the extracellular matrix (ECM) through integrins to the actomyosin cytoskeleton. During the last years vinculin has become the focus of cell mechanical measurements and a key protein regulating the transmission of contractile forces. In earlier reports vinculin has been described as an inhibitor of cell migration on planar substrates, because knock-out of vinculin in F9 mouse embryonic carcinoma cells and mouse embryonic fibroblasts showed increased cell motility on 2D substrates. The role of vinculin in cell invasion through a 3D extracellular matrix is still fragmentarily investigated. This review presents vinculin in its role as a regulator of cellular mechanical functions. Contractile force generation is reduced when vinculin is absent, or enhanced when vinculin is present. Moreover, the generation of contractile forces is a prerequisite for cell invasion through a dense 3D ECM, where the pore-size is smaller than the diameter of the cell nucleus (<2 μm). Measurements of cell’s biophysical properties will be presented. In summary, vinculin’s leading role among focal adhesion proteins in regulating the mechanical properties of cells will be discussed.

Keywords

Cytoskeleton Focal adhesions Contractile forces Integrins Vinculin Cell tractions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Deutsche Krebshilfe (107384) and the DFG (FA336/2-1).

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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Medical Physics and Technology, Biophysics GroupFriedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany

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