The complex extracellular matrix (ECM) surrounds and supports cells. In mammalian tissues the ECM is most commonly found in connective tissues such as tendon, cartilage, bone or dermis of the skin. Changes in the amount and organization of the ECM components change the type and form of the ECM. The proteins within the ECM can be classified based upon their structure and function.
Structural ECM proteins consist primarily of the collagen and elastin families of proteins. Collagen fibers strengthen and organize the matrix; elastin fibers provide flexibility and resilience. Nonstructural ECM proteins, such as fibronectin, laminin, and tenascin, serve more of an adhesive or integral role; these proteins allow for cell attachment and form crosslinks within the matrix gel. Finally, numerous proteoglycans and heparan sulfate-containing proteins form the hydrated, gel-like mixture that stabilizes the matrix within its aqueous environment.
Merck Millipore’s line of ECM proteins, antibodies and kits has grown to be the most complete line available, backed by our extensive in-house expertise, with over a decade of experience in making ECM products.
Cell behavior in vitro is typically examined in two dimensions; however, in the body, cells exist in a three-dimensional ECM environment rich in type I collagen. Cells in Merck Millipore’s 3D collagen cell culture system reflect more accurate invivo physiology, because this system simulates the collagen-rich ECM of normal tissue. This system is a simple, rapid method to analyze cell angiogenesis, migration, apoptosis, proliferation and tissue formation. Easily visualize cells in the 3D system with phase contrast or fluorescence microscopy. Cells can be directly fixed and stained within the matrix for visualization of intra- and extracellular proteins. Importantly, cells suspended in our 3D system can also be treated with modulating reagents, enabling screening of biological responses to growth factors and chemical agents. Sterile, viable cells may be removed from the system for further experimentation, including flow cytometric or biochemical analysis.
Examine the adhesion, migration, and invasion of many diverse cell types on various ECM proteins with the ECM Cell Adhesion Array Kits. The kits provide an ECM array microtiter plate with a homogenous detection format, allowing for large-scale screening and quantitative comparison of multiple samples or cell lines. The kit is designed as a rapid (1-2 hours), cost effective, efficient method for characterization of cell adhesion.