Special Issue: The Extracellular Matrix in Neural Development and Maintenance, November 2011, Vol. 71, Issue 11, 883–1130, edited by: Andreas Prokop, Louis F. Reichardt
ECM in the nervous system
The extracellular matrix (ECM) and its receptors impact the development and function of basically every cell type in the developing, adult and aging nervous systems. Studies on the ECM are essential to understand nervous system function in health and disease, and the Prokop lab is discovering how cell-matrix interactions contribute to the formation of neurological synapses.
Andreas Prokop together with Louis F. Reichardt has now edited a special issue of Developmental Neurobiology, which provides an overview over the enormous progress made during recent years in discovering the mechanisms that underpin ECM function in the nervous system. Chosen topics include ECM functions in controlling neural migration, axonal growth, myelination, dendritic spine formation, neuromuscular junction development, the neural stem cell niche, the blood-brain barrier, peripheral nerve regeneration, CNS repair, and synaptic plasticity. The issue also addresses the importance of mechanical ECM properties and advances made by using Drosophila as a model.
Historically, the role of the ECM and its receptors was viewed as largely structural. However, the numerous examples in this issue illustrate how recent advances increasingly implicate ECM functions in most, if not all, basic neuronal processes including cell adhesion and signalling, endosomal trafficking, cytoskeletal dynamics and gene expression. Many of the same molecules and the same principal mechanisms recur, and certain prevailing principles can be distilled across the various functional contexts.
This special issue merges the historical and contemporary areas of ECM-related and neurobiology research in order to reveal a more complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning the nervous system.