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WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol
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Extracellular matrix remodeling in 3D: implications in tissue homeostasis and disease progression

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a critical role in regulating cell behavior during tissue homeostasis and in disease progression. Through a combination of adhesion, contraction, alignment of ECM proteins and subsequent degradation, cells change the chemical, mechanical, and physical properties of their surrounding matrix. Other contributing factors to matrix remodeling are the de novo synthesis of ECM proteins, post‐translational modifications and receptor‐mediated internalization. In this review, we highlight how each of these processes contributes to the maintenance of homeostasis and in disease conditions such as cancer and liver fibrosis.

Mechanisms used by cells to remodel the ECM include (a) adhesion to the ECM through integrins and focal adhesion proteins, (b) contraction and alignment of fibers via actomyosin contractility, breakdown of ECM proteins through (c) the secretion of MMPs and (d) receptor‐mediated internalization followed by lysosomal degradation, (e) synthesis of new ECM proteins, and (f) post‐translational modification of the ECM through crosslinking.
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(a) Cells encapsulated in a 3D ECM‐rich environment, (b) Cells utilize MMPs and receptor mediated internalization of ECM forming tunnels or micro‐tracks ranging in diameter from 10 to 20 μm.
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In the Spotlight

Mauro Ferrari

Mauro Ferrari

started out in mechanical engineering and became interested in nanotechnology with his studies on nanomechanics and nanofluidics. His research work and involvement with setting up some of the premier nano centers and alliances in the world, bringing together universities, hospitals, and federal agencies, showcases interdisciplinarity at work.

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