How the extracellular matrix shapes neural development
During development, both cells and tissues must acquire the correct shape to allow their proper function. This is especially relevant in the nervous system, where the shape of individual cell processes, such as the axons and dendrites, and the shape of entire tissues, such as the folding of the neocortex, are highly specialized. While many aspects of neural development have been uncovered, there are still several open questions concerning the mechanisms governing cell and tissue shape. In this review, we discuss the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in these processes. In particular, we consider how the ECM regulates cell shape, proliferation, differentiation and migration, and more recent work highlighting a key role of ECM in the morphogenesis of neural tissues.