Extracellular matrix signaling through growth factor receptors during wound healing

Wound Repair Regen. May-Jun 2004;12(3):262-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1067-1927.2004.012302.x.


Recently, extracellular matrix components have been shown to contain domains that can interact with and activate receptors with intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity. These receptor tyrosine kinases are strong mediators of the cell responses of proliferation, migration, differentiation, and dedifferentiation. However, an interesting question is raised as to why cells would present growth factor receptor ligands in such a manner, as the majority of growth factors are small, soluble, or only transiently tethered ligands. With the exception of the discoidin domain receptors that bind collagen, the other described domains interact with a receptor that binds ubiquitous soluble peptide growth factors, the epidermal growth factor receptor. Unlike traditional growth factors, these individual "matrikine" domains within tenascin-C, laminin, collagen, and decorin possess relatively low binding affinity (high nanomolar or micromolar) and are often presented in multiple valency. The presentation of ligands within the extracellular matrix in this fashion might allow for unique biochemical and physiological outcomes. This new class of "matrikine" ligand may be critical for wound healing, as the majority of known extracellular matrix components possessing matrikines play a strong role, or are presented uniquely, during skin repair. Tenascin-C expression, for instance, is uniquely regulated spatially and has been proposed to present pro-migratory tracks during skin repair through its epidermal growth factor-like repeats. The epidermal growth factor-like repeats of laminin-5 act as cryptic ligands revealed upon matrix metalloproteinase-2 degradation of the surrounding extracellular matrix. The deletion of the discoidin domain receptors 1 and 2 for collagen have negative consequences on the role of fibroblasts and epithelial cells for matrix metalloproteinase production, migration, proliferation, and extracellular matrix turnover. Finally, decorin can bind to, inhibit, and down-regulate epidermal growth factor receptor levels and signaling, suggesting a tonic role of the epidermal growth factor binding domain of decorin in the resolution of wound healing. We provide a model framework for further studies into this emerging class of signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen / physiology
  • Decorin
  • Discoidin Domain Receptors
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / physiology
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Humans
  • Laminin / physiology
  • Proteoglycans / physiology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / physiology
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Receptors, Mitogen / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Tenascin / physiology
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • DCN protein, human
  • Decorin
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Laminin
  • Proteoglycans
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Receptors, Mitogen
  • Tenascin
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Collagen
  • Discoidin Domain Receptors
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases