Work by Mark Bass and others has been published in this week’s issue of Developmental Cell.

This study investigates the cellular mechanisms that are required for tissue repair. To heal a wound, cells called fibroblasts must migrate through the surrounding extracellular matrix to the site of damage. Once at the damaged tissue, fibroblasts contract the wound and begin the healing process. This paper identifies how cells can detect and respond efficiently to tissue damage.

Molecules required for wound healing // Image by Adam Byron

By analysing how well molecules on the cell surface can detect extracellular matrix exposed upon injury, this study revealed that a cell-surface molecule called syndecan-4 can affect the availability of another cell-surface molecule, integrin. Syndecan-4 was found to trigger the uptake of integrin, which made cells less adhesive and enabled them to travel to the site of injury more efficiently. These results will provide new avenues for improving wound healing in patients after illness or surgery.

Funding: This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Citation: MD Bass, RC Williamson, RD Nunan, JD Humphries, A Byron, MR Morgan, P Martin, MJ Humphries, A syndecan-4 hair trigger initiates wound healing through caveolin- and RhoG-regulated integrin endocytosis. Dev. Cell 21, 681–693 (2011). DOI | PubMed