Stromal-epithelial interactions regulate tissue development and homeostasis. In particular, the extracellular matrix, which is the noncellular component of the microenvironment, influences cell growth, survival, migration and tissue-specific differentiation through a repertoire of cellular receptors including integrins, syndecans and discoidin receptors. We explore the molecular mechanisms whereby these extracellular matrix receptors modulate cell fate. Specifically, we are investigating how mechanical and topological properties of the matrix, which are related to its composition and organization, regulate the function of matrix receptors to alter cell behavior.
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