The extracellular matrix (ECM) consists of a complex mixture of structural and functional macromolecules and serves an important role in tissue and organ morphogenesis and in the maintenance of cell and tissue structure and function. Specific interactions between cells and the ECM are mediated by transmembrane molecules, mainly integrins and perhaps also proteoglycans, CD36, or other cell-surface-associated components. These interactions lead to a direct or indirect control of cellular activities such as adhesion, migration, differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. In addition, integrins function as mechanoreceptors and provide a force-transmitting physical link between the ECM and the cytoskeleton. Integrins are a family of glycosylated, heterodimeric transmembrane adhesion receptors that consist of noncovalently bound alpha- and beta-subunits.
Environmental Information Processing; Signaling molecules and interaction