3 years ago

Role of the ECM in notochord formation, function and disease.

Bonaldo, Corallo, Trapani
The notochord is a midline structure common to all chordate animals; it provides mechanical and signaling cues for the developing embryo. In vertebrates, the notochord plays key functions during embryogenesis, being a source of developmental signals that pattern the surrounding tissues. It is composed of a core of vacuolated cells surrounded by an epithelial-like sheath of cells that secrete a thick peri-notochordal basement membrane made of different extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. The correct deposition and organization of the ECM is essential for proper notochord morphogenesis and function. Work carried out in the past two decades has allowed researchers to dissect the contribution of different ECM components to this embryonic tissue. Here, we will provide an overview of these genetic and mechanistic studies. In particular, we highlight the specific functions of distinct matrix molecules in regulating notochord development and notochord-derived signals. Moreover, we also discuss the involvement of ECM synthesis and its remodeling in the pathogenesis of chordoma, a malignant bone cancer that originates from remnants of notochord remaining after embryogenesis.

Publisher URL: http://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.175950

DOI: 10.1242/jcs.175950

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