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Sarah Villringer

sarah villringer

Engineering of functional proto-cells and proto-tissues
by integrating synthetic glycocalyx components into liposomes

Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Winfried Römer

Centre for Biological Signalling Studies (BIOSS)
Schänzlestraße 18
79104 Freiburg

Phone: +49 (0) 76 203 67503



Our lab focuses on host-pathogen interactions and the specific interactions of carbohydrate-binding proteins called lectins with distinct glycosphingolipids exposed at the host cell surface e.g. the formation of plasma membrane invaginations, activation and recruitment of signaling molecules, cytoskeleton remodeling, and cellular uptake of the pathogen. Furthermore, we work with synthetic membrane systems e.g. Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) to reconstitute cellular mechanisms in a bottom-up approach.

GUVs are self-assembled spherical lipid bilayer systems which are cell-sized or larger and are widely used as minimal proto-cell models. My project aims to incorporate a synthetic glycocalyx into GUVs to create proto-cells with adhesive properties. We will use lectins to selectively link GUVs to other GUVs bearing complimentary glycoconjugates, thus allowing the rational construction of complex proto-tissues. Furthermore, we seek to induce and study membrane fusion of functionalized proto-cells and proto-tissues induced by lectin binding, which forces two membranes into close proximity.


Artificial membrane systems (liposomes, supported lipid bilayers, electroformation, PVA-swelling, extrusion, inverse emulsion, confocal fluorescence microscopy, cell culture


Stuhr-Hansen, N., Madl, J., Villringer, S., Aili, U., Römer, W., & Blixt, O. (2016). Synthesis of Cholesterol-Substituted Glycopeptides for Tailor-Made Glycocalyxification of Artificial Membrane Systems. ChemBioChem, 17(15), 1403–1406.

Kühn, K., Cott, C., Bohler, S., Aigal, S., Zheng, S., Villringer, S., … Römer, W. (2015). The interplay of autophagy and β-Catenin signaling regulates differentiation in acute myeloid leukemia. Cell Death Discovery, 1, 15031.

Schneider, D., Dühren-von Minden, M., Alkhatib, A., Setz, C., van Bergen, C. A. M., Benkißer-Petersen, M., … Jumaa, H. (2015). Lectins from opportunistic bacteria interact with acquired variable-region glycans of surface immunoglobulin in follicular lymphoma. Blood, 125(21), 3287–96.