Cell matrix receptors

Cells respond to their environment. This can be seen in a variety of morphogenetic effects, cell attachment, spreading, differentiation, etc., and in recent years it has become increasingly apparent that the ECM can regulate the expression of a variety of genes which control cellular activity. These effects are mediated by a variety of cell surface receptors, including integrins, proteoglycans and selectins.

Integrins, a family of cell surface heterodimers, are receptors for a number of matrix molecules. While there are about 14a and 8(3 subunits, only about 20 different dimer combinations have been identified. Ligands appear to bind to multiple integrins, and individual integrin receptors appear to bind many different ligands, indicating that redundancy may be a key feature of this type of interaction. Movement and shape changes seen in cells indicate that integrins associate with intracellular cytoskeletal elements. Ligand binding to integrins may also involve signal transduction and gene regulation. This, coupled with the presence of growth factor receptors, provides a mechanism for cellular response to changing matrix conditions.

See also: Adhesion molecules; Fibronectin; Integrins; Microenvironment; Rheumatological disorders.

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