The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a network of secreted proteins that, beyond providing support for tissues and organs, is involved in the regulation of a variety of cell functions, including cell proliferation, polarity, migration and oncogenic transformation. ECM homeostasis is maintained through a tightly controlled balance between synthesis, deposition and degradation. While the role of metalloproteases in ECM degradation is widely recognised, the contribution of ECM internalisation and intracellular degradation to ECM maintenance has been mostly overlooked. In this review, I will summarise what is known about the molecular mechanisms mediating ECM endocytosis and how this process impacts on diseases, such as fibrosis and cancer.
© 2016 The Author(s); published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society