Makeup of the Matrix

An artist’s rendering of the basement membrane, a sheet-like mesh of proteins and other molecules that supports and surrounds tissues in the kidneys, heart, liver and other organs. A study co-led by researchers in Dave Sherwood’s lab at Duke and collaborators at the University of Manchester identifies the most complete “parts list” yet for these microscopic scaffolds: more than 200 human proteins and their counterparts in animals such as worms, mice and fruit flies – four times more than were previously known. The work could help diagnose and treat basement membrane defects associated with diseases ranging from diabetes to cancer.