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Matrix Biol. 2003 Apr;22(2):101-7.

Cell signaling events: a view from the matrix.

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Laboratory of Genetics and Organogenesis Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 535 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Cellular activities are primarily initiated, modulated and sustained by multifunctional molecules (cytokines and growth factors) that are secreted into the extracellular space and that signal through membrane-bound, high-affinity receptors. In contrast to the fairly well understood mechanisms that mediate the specificity of signal transduction within the confined and compartmentalized environment of the cell, significantly less is known about the mechanisms that regulate the availability of signaling molecules in the extracellular milieu. Recent findings have implicated the participation of extracellular protein macroaggregates in signaling events controlling patterning and morphogenesis. The results suggest a functional coupling between the tissue-specific organization of collagenous and elastic macroaggregates and their ability to perform instructive as well as structural functions. These observations open the way to a novel understanding in these poorly understood and critically important areas of cell and developmental biology.

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