A growing number of studies have established reciprocal linkages between extracellular matrix (ECM)-integrins, growth factor signaling and cell-cell adhesion molecules. ECM-dependent tissue-specific gene expression has also been linked to chromatin remodeling. With respect to tissue morphogenesis and differentiation, crosstalk has been established between the ECM and the homeobox morphoregulatory genes. Each of these linkages is profoundly influenced by the cell's microenvironment and the resulting tissue form. Thus for a cell to achieve a differentiated phenotype, the ECM molecules and their receptors must integrate both form and function. In contrast, mutated genes and aberrant interactions with the microenvironment conspire to undermine this integration, often resulting in malignant transformation.