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Cell Adh Migr. 2016 Sep 2;10(5):451-460. Epub 2016 Feb 6.

Integrative systems and synthetic biology of cell-matrix adhesion sites.

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a Department of Systemic Cell Biology , Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology , Dortmund , Germany.


The complexity of cell-matrix adhesion convolves its roles in the development and functioning of multicellular organisms and their evolutionary tinkering. Cell-matrix adhesion is mediated by sites along the plasma membrane that anchor the actin cytoskeleton to the matrix via a large number of proteins, collectively called the integrin adhesome. Fundamental challenges for understanding how cell-matrix adhesion sites assemble and function arise from their multi-functionality, rapid dynamics, large number of components and molecular diversity. Systems biology faces these challenges in its strive to understand how the integrin adhesome gives rise to functional adhesion sites. Synthetic biology enables engineering intracellular modules and circuits with properties of interest. In this review I discuss some of the fundamental questions in systems biology of cell-matrix adhesion and how synthetic biology can help addressing them.


building blocks; focal adhesions; reverse engineering; rewiring; self-assembly; self-organization

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