The simplest multicellular animals are single cells embedded in a jelly of proteins and polysaccharides called the extracellular matrix. Cells themselves produce and secrete these materials, thus creating their own immediate environment (Chapter 6). Collagen, the single most abundant protein in the animal kingdom, is a major component of the extracellular matrix in most tissues. In animals, the extracellular matrix cushions and lubricates cells. A specialized, especially tough matrix, the basal lamina, forms a supporting layer underlying sheetlike cell layers and helps prevent the cells from ripping apart.
The cells in animal tissues are "glued" together by cell-adhesion molecules (CAMs) embedded in their surface membranes. Some CAMs bind cells to one another; other types bind cells to the extracellular matrix, forming a cohesive unit. The cells of higher plants contain relatively few such molecules; instead, plants cells are rigidly tied together by extensive interlocking of the cell walls of neighboring
▲ FIGURE 1-15 The three types of cytoskeletal filaments have characteristic distributions within cells. Three views of the same cell. A cultured fibroblast was treated with three different antibody preparations. Each antibody binds specifically to the protein monomers forming one type of filament and is chemically linked to a differently colored fluorescent dye (green, cells. The cytosols of adjacent animal or plant cells often are connected by functionally similar but structurally different "bridges" called gap junctions in animals and plasmodes-mata in plants. These structures allow cells to exchange small molecules including nutrients and signals, facilitating coordinated functioning of the cells in a tissue.
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