Functional diversity of laminins

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2012;28:523-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-101011-155750.


Laminins are a large family of conserved, multidomain trimeric basement membrane proteins that contribute to the structure of extracellular matrix and influence the behavior of associated cells, such as adhesion, differentiation, migration, phenotype stability, and resistance to anoikis. In lower organisms such as Hydra there is only one isoform of laminin, but higher organisms have at least 16 trimeric isoforms with varying degrees of cell/tissue specificity. In vitro protein and cell culture studies, gene manipulation in animals, and laminin gene mutations in human diseases have provided insight into the specific functions of some laminins, but the biological roles of many isoforms are still largely unexplored, mainly owing to difficulties in isolating them in pure form from tissues or cells. In this review, we elucidate the evolution of laminins, describe their molecular complexity, and explore the current knowledge of their diversity and functional aspects, including laminin-mediated signaling via membrane receptors, in vitro cell biology, and involvement in various tissues gained from animal model and human disease studies. The potential use of laminins in cell biology research and biotechnology is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / metabolism*
  • Basement Membrane / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Humans
  • Laminin / genetics
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Laminin / physiology*
  • Organ Specificity
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / physiology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Laminin
  • Protein Isoforms