Cell-extracellular matrix interactions are crucial for the development of an organism from the earliest stages of embryogenesis. The main constituents of the extracellular matrix are collagens, laminins, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans that form a network of interactions. The extracellular matrix and its associated molecules provide developmental cues and structural support from the outside of cells during development. The complex nature of the extracellular matrix and its ability for continuous remodeling poses challenges when investigating extracellular matrix-based signaling during development. One way to address these challenges is to employ invertebrate models such as Caenorhabditis elegans, which are easy to genetically manipulate and have an invariant developmental program. C. elegans also expresses fewer extracellular matrix protein isoforms and exhibits reduced redundancy compared to mammalian models, thus providing a simpler platform for exploring development. This review summarizes our current understanding of how the extracellular matrix controls the development of neurons, muscles and the germline in C. elegans.
- Caenorhabditis elegans
- Extracellular matrix