Extracellular Matrix

By: edwinsydney


However, communication between cells, differentiation and cell adhesion are all common functions of extracellular matrix. Although living things comprise of cells, there are also nonliving materials that surround multi-cellular organisms making the extracellular matrix. In some organisms, the extracellular matrix accounts for a higher percentage of the organismís body than cells.

In animal, extracellular matrix includes the basement membrane and the interstitial matrix. Interstitial matrix is found between different animal cells. It is present in intercellular spaces in animals. Fibrous proteins and polysaccharides gels fill interstitial space and they function as the compression buffer offer protection against stress that is placed on extracellular matrix. Basement membranes refer to depositions that look like sheet and different epithelial cells rest on them.

In plant, extracellular matrix includes the components of cell wall such as cellulose. It also has more complex and signaling molecules. Multi-cellular bio-film is found in some organisms that are single celled. In these organisms, extracellular matrix embeds the cells. This extracellular matrix comprises of primarily extracellular polymeric elements.

Extracellular matrix is diverse in nature as well as composition. This makes it possible for it to perform different functions including providing support, regulating different forms of intercellular communications and segregating tissues. Dynamic behavior of a cell is regulated by extracellular matrix. Additionally, extracellular matrix sequesters different factors that are involved in cellular growth while acting as their local store.

Protease activities can be triggered by physiological conditions changes causing such stores to release the factors. This enhances local and rapid growth of factor-mediated activation of different cellular function even without synthesis of de novo. Extracellular formation is important for different processes including fibrosis and wound healing. Understanding the composition and structure of extracellular matrix is also important because it helps in understanding complex dynamic of the invasion of tumor as well as metastasis that comes with cancer.

Metastasis usually involves extracellular matrix destruction by enzymes that include threonine proteases, serine proteases and also matrix metalloproteinase. Production of extracellular components by resident cells occurs intracellularly and they are secreted via exocytosis. After secretion, the components aggregate with existing matrix. Extracellular matrix is made up of glycosaminoglycans and fibrous proteins that form an interlocking mesh.

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