Periostin (Postn) is a heterofunctional secreted extracellular matrix (ECM) protein comprised of four fasciclin domains that promotes cellular adhesion and movement, as well as collagen fibrillogenesis. Postn is expressed in unique growth centers during embryonic development where it facilitates epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of select cell populations undergoing reorganization. In the heart, Postn is expressed in the developing valves, cardiac fibroblasts and in regions of the outflow track. In the adult, Postn expression is specifically induced in areas of tissue injury or areas with ongoing cellular re-organization. In the adult heart Postn is induced in the ventricles following myocardial infarction, pressure overload stimulation, or generalized cardiomyopathy. Here we will review the functional consequences associated with Postn induction in both the developing and adult heart. The majority of data collected to date suggest a common function for Postn in both development and disease as a potent inducible regulator of cellular reorganization and extracellular matrix homeostasis, although some alternate and controversial functions have also been ascribed to Postn, the validity of which will be discussed here.
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