Extracellular Matrix

The extracellular matrix is a mesh of protein fibres and glycoproteins that exist externally of the cell in multicellular organisms

The extracellular matrix (ECM) typically provides structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells, including:

  • Providing sites for anchorage by cells within a tissue and segregating separate tissues from one another
  • Sequestering and storing growth factors until receipt of a chemical signal (thereby regulating intercellular communication)

In plant cells the extracellular matrix includes cell wall components (like cellulose) and hence plays an important role in: 

  • Regulating water uptake (maintainence of cell turgor) 
  • Providing mechanical strength and rigidity to the cell (maintains cell shape)

Extracellular Matrix  (Animal Tissue)

extracellular matrix