Laminin, a protein important to the body, is in the shape of a cross-Truth!

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Laminin, an Important Protein that Looks Like a Cross-Truth!

 
Summary of eRumor:

The eRumor talks of a substance called “laminin” that is described as part of a family of proteins that “hold us together.”  Then there is a picture of laminin—which looks like a cross.

The Truth:
This story leads into complex considerations of science and biology but the main questions it prompts are whether laminin is as important as the eRumor claims and does it have a shape like a cross.
The simple answer to both questions seems to be yes.
Laminin is defined by the Webster Medical Dictionary as a “glycoprotein that is a component of connective tissue basement membrane and that promotes cell adhesion.”  In other words, looking at laminin as a kind of glue isn’t far from the truth.  There are several different laminins.
In their book The Laminins authors Peter Elkblom and Rupert Timpl go into more detail about both the importance of laminins and their structure.  They describe laminins that, together with other proteins, “hold cells and tissues together.”   They also say, “Electron microscopy reveals a cross-like shape for all laminins investigated so far.”  They went on to say that in solution the laminin shapes were more like a flower than a cross.  The strands of laminins do not always stand straight and at right angles, but they do consists of arms, three of which are short and one of which is long.

Research has been conducted on laminins in connection with numerous conditions and diseases.  It has been found, for example, that people with congenital muscular dystrophies do not have  laminin-alpha2, which is normally found in the layer of cells around muscle fibers and other cells important to the structural integrity of muscle cells.

Updated 5/14/08