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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hormonally regulated components of the adrenocortical cell environment and the control of adrenal cortex homeostasis.

The extracellular matrix ( ECM) strongly contributes to the regulation of cell proliferation and cell differentiation, and thereby of embryonic development and adult tissue homeostasis. We review here the ongoing characterization of the structure and functions of the extracellular matrix components secreted by adrenocortical cells and discuss their possible implication in the hormonal regulation of adrenal cortex homeostasis. Fibronectin (FN) and laminin (LN) are both major adhesive proteins for adrenocortical cells. FN is synthesized by bovine fasciculata cells in primary culture, and its synthesis is stimulated by TGF(beta)1, TGF(beta)2, and FGF-2 but is not modified by IGF-1 or by the hormones ACTH and angiotensin II. LN is also synthesized by bovine fasciculata cells and its synthesis is specifically stimulated by ACTH. Both proteins are haptotactic and chemotactic for adrenocortical cells, suggesting a physiological role in adrenocyte migration. Their distribution in the adrenal gland is quite distinct. LN is uniformly present in the steroidogenic cells from the three zones, whereas FN is abundant in the fibrovascular structures of the capsule and the cortex. ACTH treatment of adrenocortical cells strongly induces the expression and secretion of thrombospondin-2 (TSP2), a large trimeric matricellular protein. The multimodular structure of TSP2 is the support of a variety of biological functions. TSP2 promotes attachment but prevents spreading of adrenocortical cells. On the other hand, TSP2 induces the activation of latent TGFbeta through an indirect mechanism and is anti-angiogenic in vitro. The overall distribution of TSP2 in the glomerulosa and fasciculata zones of the adrenal cortex, and its absence from the reticularis zone, argue in favor of a role in the protection of adrenocortical cells against apoptosis. In the adrenal cortex, five main biological functions are potentially regulated by components of the extracellular matrix : stem cell commitment into the adrenocyte differentiation pathway, terminal differentiation toward the three distinct adrenocyte phenotypes, centripetal migration, apoptosis and the formation of the capillary network. Future studies will aim at deciphering which extracellular component(s) is involved in each of these regulations.[1]


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