The Extracellular Matrix of Multi-Cellular Animals

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a feature of all multi cellular animals . It is a complex network of proteins secreted locally by cells via exocytosisalberts. The protein components that form the ECM include proteoglycans, glycoproteins such as fibronectin and fibres such as collagen. In addition a family of five matricellular proteins called thrombospondins are present.
All cells are in close contact with the ECM either continuously or at important phases of their development27. The ECM provides a physical environment in which a cell exists. It supplies the substrate for cell anchorage, wound repair and for transmitting environmental signals which affects the proliferation, differentiation and survival of a cell 1.
Even though the assembly of ECM proteins into the highly organized functional matrix is known to be absolutely vital for the survival and normal development of animals it is still not fully understood5. Continued understanding of this dynamic structure is needed due to the important role the ECM plays in the normal development and function of tissues, homeostasis, wound repair and regeneration in multi cellular organisms. Therefore among the many ECM protein components that interact, the formation of collagen networks is pertinent to this study.
The collagens are arguably the most dominant protein in the ECM. The collagens represent a large heterogeneous family of ECM glycoproteins which contain at least one triple helical domain collagen family. All
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