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Integrins and extracellular matrix in mechanotransduction

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Lindsay RamageQueen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UKAbstract: Integrins are a family of cell surface receptors which mediate cell–matrix and cell–cell adhesions. Among other functions they provide an important mechanical link between the cells external and intracellular environments while the adhesions that they form also have critical roles in cellular signal-transduction. Cell–matrix contacts occur at zones in the cell surface where adhesion receptors cluster and when activated the receptors bind to ligands in the extracellular matrix. The extracellular matrix surrounds the cells of tissues and forms the structural support of tissue which is particularly important in connective tissues. Cells attach to the extracellular matrix through specific cell-surface receptors and molecules including integrins and transmembrane proteoglycans. Integrins work alongside other proteins such as cadherins, immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecules, selectins, and syndecans to mediate cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions and communication. Activation of adhesion receptors triggers the formation of matrix contacts in which bound matrix components, adhesion receptors, and associated intracellular cytoskeletal and signaling molecules form large functional, localized multiprotein complexes. Cell–matrix contacts are important in a variety of different cell and tissue properties including embryonic development, inflammatory responses, wound healing, and adult tissue homeostasis. This review summarizes the roles and functions of integrins and extracellular matrix proteins in mechanotransduction.Keywords: ligand binding, α subunit, subunit, focal adhesion, cell differentiation, mechanical loading, cell–matrix interaction

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