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The extracellular matrix is a complex network of material such as proteins and polysaccharides that are secreted locally by cells and remain closely associated with them to provide structural, adhesive and biochemical signalling support.
Cell migration is sensitive to environmental stiffness, but how cells sense optimal stiffness is not known. Here the authors develop a model that predicts that the optimum can be shifted by altering the number of active molecular motors and clutches, and verify their model in two cell types.
Establishment of the outer blood-retina barrier is a hallmark of retinal development but the contribution of choroid endothelial cells (ECs) is not known. Here the authors show in the developing mouse retina that ECs remodel the basement membrane and lead to enhanced barrier function of retinal epithelial cells.
Research has highlighted the importance of the stroma in pancreatic cancer, in particular the role of complex interactions between cancer and stromal cells. A new study describes a novel mechanism by which stromal pathways can be modulated to inhibit tumour growth. The findings support the concept that a multipronged therapeutic approach targeting pancreatic cancer cells and cancer stroma could improve clinical outcomes for this disease.
Many biological processes are influenced by the mechanical rigidity of surrounding tissues. Now, a combination of experiments and mathematical modelling has been used to describe the precise molecular and physical mechanism by which cells sense and respond to the mechanical properties of their extracellular environment through integrin-based adhesions.
Transporting epithelia commonly consist of tubes that mediate between the body and its environment. Lumen formation is closely linked to epithelial morphogenesis, but an open question is how luminal symmetry is broken to generate tubes rather than hollow cysts. A report about the biomechanics of intercellular contacts might now provide some answers.