Without the activity of a proteinase that cuts away extracellular matrix, fat cells in mice cannot develop into mature adipocytes, according to a new study in Cell. However, in two-dimensional culture -- the model used by most researchers studying fat cells -- the proteinase is not required, a previously unrecognized difference between adipocyte development in vitro and in vivo, the authors say. Clearing excess collagen matrix ?makes space surrounding the cell, so that they can change cell shape and the cell can move or can expand and proliferate,? said study leader Tae-Hwa Chun of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. These changes are likely necessary for cells to initiate gene expression that turns them into mature adipocytes, Chun said.While studying mice with a deleted gene for a cell-surface metalloproteinase called MT1-MMP, Chun and his colleagues noticed that the animals showed poorly developed white adipose tissue....

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