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Matrix Biol. 2002 Mar;21(2):115-28.

Domain structure and organisation in extracellular matrix proteins.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Biophysics Section, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BW, UK. e.hohenester@ic.ac.uk


Extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins are large modular molecules built up from a limited set of modules, or domains. The basic folds of many domains have now been determined by crystallography or NMR spectroscopy. Recent structures of domain pairs and larger tandem arrays, as well as of oligomerisation domains, have begun to reveal the principles underlying the higher order architecture of ECM proteins. Structural information, coupled with site-directed mutagenesis, has been instrumental in showing how adjacent domains can co-operate in ligand binding. Very recently, the first heterotypic ECM protein complexes have become available. Here, we review the advances of the last 5 years in understanding ECM protein structure, with special emphasis on those structures that have given insight into the biological functions of ECM proteins.

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