Dictionary > Extracellular matrix

Extracellular matrix

Definition
noun, plural: extracellular matrices
The non-cellular portion of a tissue produced and secreted by cells and mainly for providing support
Supplement
The extracellular matrix is the non-cellular portion of a tissue. It is a collection of extracellular material produced and secreted by cells into the surrounding medium. The main function of the extracellular matrix is to provide structural and biochemical support to the surrounding cells.1 Other functions of the extracellular matrix include cell adhesion, intercellular communication, and segregation of tissues. The role of the extracellular matrix depends on its nature and composition. For instance, the matrix may be mineralised to resist compression (as in bone), or dominated by tension resisting fibers (as in tendon). In animal tissues, the main components of the extracellular matrix are the fibrous elements (e.g. collagen, elastin, reticulin), link proteins (e.g. fibronectin, laminin), and space filling molecules (e.g. glycosaminoglycans). In plant tissues, the extracellular matrix includes cell wall components such as cellulose.2
Abbreviation / Acronym: ECM
See also:

Reference(s):

1 Michel, Gurvan; Thierry Tonon; Delphine Scornet; J. Mark Cock; Bernard Kloareg (October 2010). “The cell wall polysaccharide metabolism of the brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus. Insights into the evolution of extracellular matrix polysaccharides in Eukaryotes”. New Phytologist 188 (1): 82–97.

2 Brownlee, Colin (October 2002). “Role of the extracellular matrix in cell-cell signalling: paracrine paradigms”. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 5 (5): 396–401.


You will also like...

Ecosystem Succession
Ecosystem Succession

If the balance of nature is left untouched, landscapes can change dramatically over time. A previous ecosystem is supers..

Types and Causes of Brain Damage
Types and Causes of Brain Damage

This tutorial describes the different types and causes of brain damage. Find out how genetics, physical injury, lack of ..

Biological Cell schematic diagram
Biological Cell Introduction

It only takes one biological cell to create an organism. A single cell is able to keep itself functional through its 'mi..

Schematic diagram of DNA replication
DNA Structure & DNA Replication

DNA is a double helix structure comprised of nucleotides. A nucleotide, in turn, is made up of phosphate molecule, deoxy..

Homeostatic Mechanisms and Cellular Communication
Homeostatic Mechanisms and Cellular Communication

Homeostasis is the relatively stable conditions of the internal environment that result from compensatory regulatory res..

Principles of Hormonal Control Systems
Principles of Hormonal Control Systems

Hormones are essential in the regulation of the activity of the various biological systems of the human body. The ineffi..