SPARC, a matricellular protein: at the crossroads of cell-matrix communication

Matrix Biol. 2001 Jan;19(8):816-27. doi: 10.1016/s0945-053x(00)00133-5.


SPARC is a multifunctional glycoprotein that belongs to the matricellular group of proteins. It modulates cellular interaction with the extracellular matrix (ECM) by its binding to structural matrix proteins, such as collagen and vitronectin, and by its abrogation of focal adhesions, features contributing to a counteradhesive effect on cells. SPARC inhibits cellular proliferation by an arrest of cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. It also regulates the activity of growth factors, such as platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The expression of SPARC in adult animals is limited largely to remodeling tissue, such as bone, gut mucosa, and healing wounds, and it is prominent in tumors and in disorders associated with fibrosis. The crystal structure of two of the three domains of the protein has revealed a novel follistatin-like module and an extracellular calcium-binding (EC) module containing two EF-hand motifs. The follistatin-like module and the EC module are shared by at least four other proteins that comprise a family of SPARC-related genes. Targeted disruption of the SPARC locus in mice has shown that SPARC is important for lens transparency, as SPARC-null mice develop cataracts shortly after birth. SPARC is a prototypical matricellular protein that functions to regulate cell-matrix interactions and thereby influences many important physiological and pathological processes.

Publication types

  • Corrected and Republished Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Osteonectin / chemistry
  • Osteonectin / genetics
  • Osteonectin / metabolism
  • Osteonectin / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Growth Substances
  • Osteonectin
  • Receptors, Cell Surface