Fibrillin-rich microfibrils: Structural determinants of morphogenetic and homeostatic events

Francesco Ramirez, Harry C. Dietz

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Fibrillin-rich microfibrils are specialized extracellular matrix assemblies that endow connective tissues with mechanical stability and elastic properties, and that participate in the regulation of organ formation, growth and homeostasis. Their physiological importance is underscored by the complex spectrum of clinical manifestations associated with mutations of fibrillin-1 and fibrillin-2 in Marfan syndrome (MFS) and congenital contractural arachnodactyly, respectively. Early evidence suggested that fibrillin-1 mutations in MFS lead to loss of tissue integrity by perturbing microfibril assembly and function. Recent studies in genetically targeted mice have however revealed that fibrillin-1 and fibrillin-2 mutations perturb signaling events mediated by TGF-β superfamily members. As such, these studies have established a new biological paradigm whereby fibrillin-rich microfibrils are structural networks that specify the local concentration and timely release of signaling molecules during morphogenesis and tissue remodeling. This review summarizes our current understanding of the role of fibrillin-rich microfibrils in development and disease, as well as exciting new applications in the clinical management of MFS and related connective tissue disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-330
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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