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The extra cellularmatrix (ECM) acts not only as a structural support or scaffold but also plays an essential role in regulating cellular activities. Fibronectin (FN) is locally assembled by cells into a complex three-dimensional matrix on the cell surface where it controls a wide variety of cell functions. Its assembly is essential during development and tissue repair, as well as during physiological tissue homeostasis. This chapter reviews the research that examines the mechanisms of FN matrix assembly, both using cells cultured on rigid planar surfaces, as well as more recent studies that have begun to examine this process in models that more closely mimic matrix environments in vivo. We also discuss what is known about the effect of the FN matrix on cellular behaviour, with a focus on data which reveal the importance of the structure, mechanical properties and complexity of the ECM in activating signalling pathways that drive cell phenotype. Finally, we review how regulation of FN matrix assembly is mediated and highlight how defects in this process lead to or characterize pathological events such as fibrosis and tumorigenesis. Understanding how FN is assembled, regulated, impacts the cell microenvironment and the influence of differential FN isoforms is vital in order to develop tools to help target and control the FN assembly process and potentially impact on disease progression. © 2012 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.


Journal article

Publication Date



71 - 123