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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 Mar;58(3):371-92.

Cell-matrix contact structures.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University College London, UK.


Cell-extracellular matrix contacts are points on cell surfaces where adhesion receptors tether cells to matrix and are linked intracellularly to cytoskeletal components. These structures integrate cell organisation within tissues, support cell motility and specialised activities of differentiated cells, and transduce extracellular signals. Current characterisations of matrix contacts are based on morphological and biochemical criteria, yet the levels of definition of different contact types are very varied. Some contacts are surprisingly little-studied given their likely importance in vivo. Here, I describe the general features of matrix contacts, review the functions and molecular composition of major types of transient and stable matrix contacts, and discuss the information that is emerging on contact integration and dynamics in single cells.

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