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Extracellular Matrix Molecules

The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides structural support to cells within a given tissue and facilitates several important biological functions. Many proteins of the ECM interact with cells via cell surface integrin family receptors. The resulting focal contacts are important for the maintenance of tissue architecture and for supporting a variety of cellular processes. ECM protein/integrin binding may initiate a complex network of signal transduction cascades that, depending on the context, play an important role in cell spreading, migration, proliferation, and differentiation during embryogenesis, wound healing, and tumor development.