Extracellular Matrix (ECM)
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The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a dynamic complex of interwoven fibrils and globular macromolecules, coming together to form the foundation of all biological tissue. Comprising of collagens, glycoproteins, and proteoglycans, as well as associated secreted factors and enzymatic regulators, this supramolecular assembly provides structural support for organs and surrounding cellular compartments and also exerts a great degree of extrinsic regulation over cellular phenotype and function. The ECM establishes the extracellular milieu in which cells exist, providing cells with context-specific cues that vary from tissue to tissue, spatially guiding cellular fate, fine-tuning developmental programs, and maintaining tissue order. Such cues are responsible for switching on and off intracellular signaling programs and establishing spatially distinct cellular phenotypes. In disease, genetic aberrations, or the loss of regulation of ECM homeostasis, are observed, leading to deviations...
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