Laminins are alpha-beta-gamma heterotrimeric components of all basement membranes. Laminins are now known to play the central role in organizing and establishing the basement membrane. The diversity of laminins allows them to impart special structural and signaling properties to the basement membrane. Of the 12 known laminin chain genes, 10 have been either found to be mutated in humans or experimentally mutated in mice. This has led to great progress over the last several years towards understanding both the functions of laminins and the reasons for their great diversity. In this review, I will summarize the in vivo studies in mice and humans that have contributed to this new knowledge.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.