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Fibulin-3, EFEMP1, Extracellular Matrix, Connective Tissue, Genome-wide Association Study, Intrinsically Disordered Protein, Protein–protein Interactions

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Fibulin-3 (also known as EGF-containing fibulin extracellular matrix protein 1 (EFEMP1)) is a secreted extracellular matrix glycoprotein, encoded by the EFEMP1 gene that belongs to the eight-membered fibulin protein family. It has emerged as a functionally unique member of this family, with a diverse array of pathophysiological associations predominantly centered on its role as a modulator of extracellular matrix (ECM) biology. Fibulin-3 is widely expressed in the human body, especially in elastic-fibre-rich tissues and ocular structures, and interacts with enzymatic ECM regulators, including tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 (TIMP-3). A point mutation in EFEMP1 causes an inherited early-onset form of macular degeneration called Malattia Leventinese/Doyne honeycomb retinal dystrophy (ML/DHRD). EFEMP1 genetic variants have also been associated in genome-wide association studies with numerous complex inherited phenotypes, both physiological (namely, developmental anthropometric traits) and pathological (many of which involve abnormalities of connective tissue function). Furthermore, EFEMP1 expression changes are implicated in the progression of numerous types of cancer, an area in which fibulin-3 has putative significance as a therapeutic target. Here we discuss the potential mechanistic roles of fibulin-3 in these pathologies and highlight how it may contribute to the development, structural integrity, and emergent functionality of the ECM and connective tissues across a range of anatomical locations. Its myriad of aetiological roles positions fibulin-3 as a molecule of interest across numerous research fields and may inform our future understanding and therapeutic approach to many human diseases in clinical settings.

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Biomolecules, v. 10, issue 9, art. 1294