Elastic fibers and elastin receptor complex: Neuraminidase-1 takes the center stage.
Extracellular matrix (ECM) has for a long time being considered as a simple architectural support for cells. It is now clear that ECM presents a fundamental influence on cells driving their phenotype and fate. This complex network is highly specialized and the different classes of macromolecules that comprise the ECM determine its biological functions. For instance, collagens are responsible for the tensile strength of tissues, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans are essential for hydration and resistance to compression, and glycoproteins such as laminins facilitate cell attachment. The largest structures of the ECM are the elastic fibers found in abundance in tissues suffering high mechanical constraints such as skin, lungs or arteries. These structures present a very complex composition whose core is composed of elastin surrounded by a microfibrils mantle. Elastogenesis is a tightly regulated process involving the sialidase activity of the Neuraminidase-1 (Neu-1) sub-unit of the Elastin Receptor Complex. Interestingly, Neu-1 subunit also serves as a sensor of elastin degradation via its ability to transmit elastin-derived peptides signaling. Finally, reports showing that neuraminidase activity is able to regulate TGF-β activation raises questions about a possible role for Neu-1 in elastic fibers remodeling. In this mini review, we develop the concept of the regulation of the whole life of elastic fibers through an original scope, the key role of Neu-1 sialidase enzymatic activity.