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J Mol Med (Berl). 1998 Mar;76(3-4):253-65.

Structure and biological activity of the extracellular matrix.

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Institut de Biologie et de Chimie des Protéines, CNRS UPR 412, Lyon, France.


The extracellular matrix is formed by complex and intricate networks within which molecules are precisely organized. These molecular networks determine the specific histoarchitecture of tissues and provide cells with information and a scaffold. Most of the structural extracellular matrix molecules - collagens, noncollagenous glycoproteins, and proteoglycans - are chimeric and share common domains. Studies of the interactions between extracellular matrix molecules and mapping of the interaction sites to defined structural modules have led to the concept that the function of the extracellular matrix relies largely in the polymers that they form. Furthermore, determination of the tertiary structure of protein motifs involved either in the assembly of the various molecules into polymers or in cell-extracellular matrix interactions has recently opened the field of structural biology of the extracellular matrix.

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