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Keywords:

  • skeletal development;
  • integrins;
  • integrin signaling;
  • cartilage;
  • synovial joint;
  • articular cartilage;
  • bone;
  • tendon;
  • mesenchymal stem cell;
  • knockout mice

Integrins are cell surface receptors that connect extracellular matrix (ECM) components to the actin cytoskeleton and transmit chemical and mechanical signals into the cells through adhesion complexes. Integrin-activated downstream pathways have been implicated in the regulation of various cellular functions, including proliferation, survival, migration, and differentiation. Integrin-based attachment to the matrix plays a central role in development, tissue morphogenesis, adult tissue homeostasis, remodeling and repair, and disturbance of the ECM-integrin-cytoskeleton signaling axis often results in diseases and tissue dysfunction. Increasing amount of in vitro and in vivo evidences suggest that integrins are pivotal for proper development, function, and regeneration of skeletal tissues. In this paper, we will summarize and discuss the role of integrins in skeletogenesis and their influence on the physiology and pathophysiology of cartilage, bone, and tendon. Birth Defects Research (Part C) 102:13–36, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.