Minor collagens of the skin with not so minor functions

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The structure and function of the skin relies on the complex expression pattern and organisation of extracellular matrix macromolecules, of which collagens are a principal component. The fibrillar collagens, types I and III, constitute over 90% of the collagen content within the skin and are the major determinants of the strength and stiffness of the tissue. However, the minor collagens also play a crucial regulatory role in a variety of processes, including cell anchorage, matrix assembly, and growth factor signalling. In this article, we review the expression patterns, key functions and involvement in disease pathogenesis of the minor collagens found in the skin. While it is clear that the minor collagens are important mediators of normal tissue function, homeostasis and repair, further insight into the molecular level structure and activity of these proteins is required for translation into clinical therapies.

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