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Cell Res. 2006 Nov;16(11):872-8.

Hemicentins: what have we learned from worms?

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Program in Cell Structure and Development, Medical Biotechnology Center, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, 725 W. Lombard St., Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Hemicentins are conserved extracellular matrix proteins discovered in Caenorhabditis elegans, with orthologs in all vertebrate species including human and mouse. Hemicentins share a single, highly conserved amino-terminal von Willebrand A domain, followed by a long (>40) stretch of immunoglobulin repeats, multiple tandem epidermal growth factors and a fibulin-like carboxy-terminal module. C. elegans has a single hemicentin gene that has pleiotropic functions in transient cell contacts that are required for cell migration and basement membrane invasion and in stable contacts at hemidesmosome-mediated cell junctions and elastic fiber-like structures. Here, we summarize what is known about the function of hemicentin in C. elegans and discuss implications for hemicentin function in other species.

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