Basement membrane organization

Basement membranes (BMs) are sheet-like extracellular matrix (ECM) structures that underlie all epithelia and endothelia and surround individual cells. BMs is the foundation for cells to grow on, interlinking with practically all organized cells in the body (Miner & Yurchenco, 2004).

The BMs contain specific highly conserved proteins, mainly laminin, type IV collagen, agrin, perlecan, fibronectin and nidogen (Miner & Yurchenco, 2004; Yurchenco, 2011; Alberts et al., 2014). Laminin and type IV collagen form networks that have a structural role, influence cell migration and regulates differentiation processes of associated cells (Reilly & Engler, 2010; Domogatskaya et al., 2012). Nidogens are sulfated glycoproteins that link BM proteins together, and the glycosaminoglycan-containing perlecan and agrin contribute to the matrix volume as well as bind growth factors and introduce them to the cell surface (Domogatskaya et al., 2012). 

Laminins are key proteins in the basement membrane

Basement membrane composition is highly cell-surface selective and for proper assembly, laminins are the key proteins. In addition to their central role in basement membrane structural organization, laminin have essential roles in regulation of many cellular functions, for example adhesion, differentiation, migration, phenotype stability, and resistance to apoptosis (Domogatskaya et al., 2012).


  • Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6th edition. Alberts et al. 2014
  • Functional diversity of laminins. Domogatskaya et al.  Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol., 2012
  • Laminin functions in tissue morphogenesis. Miner & Yurchenco. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol., 2004
  • Intrinsic extracellular matrix properties regulate stem cell differentiation. Reilly & Engler. Biomech., 2010
  • Basement membranes: cell scaffoldings and signaling platforms. Yurchenco. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 3, 2011