The assembly of fibronectin into a fibrillar matrix is a regulated step-wise process that involves binding to integrin receptors and interactions between fibronectin molecules. This process has been studied extensively using cells in two-dimensional (2D) monolayer culture. In most situations in vivo, however, matrix assembly occurs within existing three-dimensional (3D) extracellular matrix networks. In an attempt to mimic this environment, we analyzed matrix assembly by fibroblasts cultured on a pre-assembled 3D fibronectin matrix and found significant stimulation of fibronectin fibril assembly compared to cells in 2D culture. Lower amounts of fibronectin were needed to initiate the assembly process, fibrils accumulated to higher density, and the 3D fibril organization played a key role in the stimulatory effect. Moreover, cells expressing activation-dependent integrins were able to assemble fibronectin matrix without exogenous stimulation, suggesting regulatory effects of the 3D fibronectin matrix on integrin activity. These results provide evidence for an additional level of control of fibronectin deposition through cell interactions with the local microenvironment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology
- Extracellular matrix
- Matrix assembly