Taking Cell-Matrix Adhesions to the Third DimensionEdna Cukierman, Roumen Pankov, Daron R. Stevens, Kenneth M. Yamada
Adhesions between fibroblastic cells and extracellular matrix have been studied extensively in vitro, but little is known about their in vivo counterparts. Here, we characterized the composition and function of adhesions in three-dimensional (3D) matrices derived from tissues or cell culture. “3D-matrix adhesions” differ from focal and fibrillar adhesions characterized on 2D substrates in their content of α 5 β 1 and α v β 3 integrins, paxillin, other cytoskeletal components, and tyrosine phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK). Relative to 2D substrates, 3D-matrix interactions also display enhanced cell biological activities and narrowed integrin usage. These distinctive in vivo 3D-matrix adhesions differ in structure, localization, and function from classically described in vitro adhesions, and as such they may be more biologically relevant to living organisms.