Minding the Matrix

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Science  02 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5654, pp. 17
DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5654.17c

The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a structural complex composed mainly of glycoproteins and proteoglycans, which supports and secures cells in many tissues. Although features inherent to its composition permit some degree of colonization by microorganisms, the mechanisms by which the ECM protects tissues from pathogen invasion remain relatively unexplored.

He et al. cloned and characterized mouse mindin, one of a family of widely expressed secreted ECM proteins. In mindin-deficient mice, macrophages responded weakly to various microbial stimuli, including lipopolysaccharide (LPS), producing only low levels of proinflammatory cytokines and hence not inducing septic shock. Mindin deficiency also resulted in impaired bacterial clearance after infection and persistence of associated histopathology, paralleling the poor bacterial agglutination and phagocytosis by macrophages observed in vitro. The broad spectrum of activities displayed by mindin suggests an important role in handling specific bacterial infections within the ECM, most likely via interaction with an as-yet-unidentified macrophage surface receptor. — SJS

Nature Immunol. 10.1038/ni1021 (2003).

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