Tailoring Extracellular Matrix Mechanics
The goal of this thesis was to understand how a hybrid molecular compositiontogether with the topology of the extracellular matrix contribute to the mechanicalproperties of mammalian tissues. To this end, we reconstituted biomimetic systemscomposed of either one or two purified extracellular matrix components, focusingon collagen, fibrin and hyaluronic acid. Collagen is the main constituent ofconnective tissues, forming a fibrillar scaffold that confers mechanical support tocells; hyaluronic acid is a highly charged, flexible molecule that maintains tissueshydration, and fibrin forms a provisionary fibrillar matrix that mediates the repair ofwounded tissues. We chose these systems because of their physiological relevanceand the importance of their interactions in many tissues and during wound healing.