The cell microenvironment has a profound influence on the behaviour, growth and survival of cells. The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides not only mechanical and structural support to cells and tissues but also binds soluble ligands and transmembrane receptors to provide spatial coordination of signalling processes. The ability of cells to sense the chemical, mechanical and topographical features of the ECM enables them to integrate complex, multiparametric information into a coherent response to the surrounding microenvironment. Consequently, dysregulation or mutation of ECM components results in a broad range of pathological conditions. Characterization of the composition of ECM derived from various cells has begun to reveal insights into ECM structure and function, and mechanisms of disease. Proteomic methodologies permit the global analysis of subcellular systems, but extracellular and transmembrane proteins present analytical difficulties to proteomic strategies owing to the particular biochemical properties of these molecules. Here, we review advances in proteomic approaches that have been applied to furthering our understanding of the ECM microenvironment. We survey recent studies that have addressed challenges in the analysis of ECM and discuss major outcomes in the context of health and disease. In addition, we summarize efforts to progress towards a systems-level understanding of ECM biology.
- Cell Adhesion
- Extracellular Matrix
- Extracellular Matrix Proteins
- Mass Spectrometry
- Models, Biological