Cell and Tissue Responses to Extracellular Matrix Fibronectin
Fibronectin is distributed in extracellular matrices throughout the body. We know that the ECM form of fibronectin stimulates cell spreading, growth, contraction, and migration by a mechanism that utilizes a cryptic heparin-binding site in the first type III module of fibronectin (FNIII-1). We also know that the matricryptic site is exposed in vivo during skeletal muscle contraction and initiates signals that stimulate vasodilation and increased blood flow to tissues. Using both in vitro and in vivo approaches, we are currently investigating factors and events that control the exposure of the matricryptic FNIII-1 site. We are also performing studies to identify the receptor and downstream signaling molecules that mediate the effects of ECM fibronectin on cell function.