Laminin, one of the most widely expressed extracellular matrix proteins, exerts many important functions in multiple organs/systems and at various developmental stages. Although its critical roles in embryonic development have been demonstrated, laminin’s functions at later stages remain largely unknown, mainly due to its intrinsic complexity and lack of research tools (most laminin mutants are embryonic lethal). With the advance of genetic and molecular techniques, many new laminin mutants have been generated recently. These new mutants usually have a longer lifespan and show previously unidentified phenotypes. Not only do these studies suggest novel functions of laminin, but also they provide invaluable animal models that allow investigation of laminin’s functions at late stages. Here, I first briefly introduce the nomenclature, structure, and biochemistry of laminin in general. Next, all the loss-of-function mutants/models for each laminin chain are discussed and their phenotypes compared. I hope to provide a comprehensive review on laminin functions and its loss-of-function models, which could serve as a reference for future research in this understudied field.
- Animal model
- Basement membrane