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. 2009 Feb;41(2):341-8.
doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2008.08.021. Epub 2008 Aug 22.

Evolution of Collagen-Based Adhesion Systems


Evolution of Collagen-Based Adhesion Systems

Jyrki Heino et al. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. .


Collagens are large, triple-helical proteins that form fibrils and network-like structures in the extracellular matrix. The collagens may have participated in the evolution of the metazoans from their very earliest origins. Cell adhesion receptors, such as the integrins, are at least as old as the collagens. Still, the early metazoan cells might not have been able to anchor directly to collagen fibrils, since the integrin-type collagen receptors have only been identified in vertebrates. Instead, the early metazoans may have used integrin-type receptors in the recognition of collagen-binding glycoproteins. It is possible that specialized, high-avidity collagen-receptor integrins have become instrumental for the evolution of bone, cartilage, circulatory and immune systems in the chordates. In vertebrates, specific collagen-binding receptor tyrosine kinases send signals into cells after adhesion to collagen. These receptors are members of the discoidin domain receptor (DDR) group. The evolutionary history of DDRs is poorly known at this time. DDR orthologs have been found in many invertebrates, but their ability to function as collagen receptors has not yet been tested. The two main categories of collagens, fibrillar and non-fibrillar, already exist in the most primitive metazoans, such as the sponges. Interestingly, both integrin and DDR families seem to have members that favor either one or the other of these two groups of collagens.

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