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Fibronectin – Just an Adhesive?

The connective tissue holds together the cells of an organism and gives the organs their structure. One of its components is fibronectin. However, this protein not only serves as an adhesive, it also plays an important role in different diseases. Inaam Nakchbandi and her team want to find out how fibronectin functions.

Difference between the degree of fibrosis that develops after injury (green: fibrotic tissue) with (above) and without fibronectin (below).

In order that a tissue maintains its proper form, cells have to be held together. That is the task of the connective tissue. An important component of connective tissue is fibronectin. But fibronectin also plays an important role in embryogenesis, wound healing or cell migration. The scientists in the research group of Inaam Nakchbandi investigate the functions of fibronectin in different tissues and its role in diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and liver fibrosis.

A protein with a big impact

Fibronectin affects the behavior of the cell anchors (integrins) and thus also the functions of the surrounding cells. Integrins serve as receptors on the surface of the cell and are important for the cell’s shape and arrangement as well as for cell migration and cell division. The interplay between connective tissue and cells exists both in healthy tissue and in diseases.

Without fibronectin, cancer is curbed

Fibronectin plays a role in tumor dissemination: Without fibronectin, the cancer spreads more slowly. The formation of blood vessels necessary for the supply with nutrients is also impaired. On the other hand, liver fibrosis becomes more pronounced in the absence of fibronectin. Therefore, the scientists suspect that fibronectin mitigates the effect of a molecule responsible for the development of this disease. In the future, the results could possibly contribute to the development of new therapies.


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