The research group analyzes integrin-mediated interactions of cells with the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the vascular wall. The focus are collagen- and laminin-binding integrins (Eble JA 1997).
Integrins are cell adhesion receptors which not only anchor cells mechanically in the matrix surroundings but also signal environmental cues into the cells. Consequently, they play crucial roles in cell adhesion, morphology, migration, proliferation, gene activation and differentiation.
The blood vessel wall has a characteristic extracellular matrix and houses different cell types (endothelial cells, pericytes, smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts). These cells experience a different matrix environment within the distinct vascular compartments and fulfill various cellular functions, such as the tight endothelial cell lining and the force-transmitting and contractile smooth muscle cells. Several of these functions are mediated by integrin-matrix interactions.