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Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 Jun 24;9:237. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00237. eCollection 2015.

Matricellular proteins of the Cyr61/CTGF/NOV (CCN) family and the nervous system.

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Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology, International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology Warsaw, Poland.


Matricellular proteins are secreted proteins that exist at the border of cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM). However, instead of playing a role in structural integrity of the ECM, these proteins, that act as modulators of various surface receptors, have a regulatory function and instruct a multitude of cellular responses. Among matricellular proteins are members of the Cyr61/CTGF/NOV (CCN) protein family. These proteins exert their activity by binding directly to integrins and heparan sulfate proteoglycans and activating multiple intracellular signaling pathways. CCN proteins also influence the activity of growth factors and cytokines and integrate their activity with integrin signaling. At the cellular level, CCN proteins regulate gene expression and cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, senescence, adhesion, and migration. To date, CCN proteins have been extensively studied in the context of osteo- and chondrogenesis, angiogenesis, and carcinogenesis, but the expression of these proteins is also observed in a variety of tissues. The role of CCN proteins in the nervous system has not been systematically studied or described. Thus, the major aim of this review is to introduce the CCN protein family to the neuroscience community. We first discuss the structure, interactions, and cellular functions of CCN proteins and then provide a detailed review of the available data on the neuronal expression and contribution of CCN proteins to nervous system development, function, and pathology.


CCN; extracellular matrix; matricellular proteins; nervous system; signal transduction

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