Title: Cadherins
Literature References: Family of calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules thought to be key regulators of morphogenesis in vertebrates. Transmembrane glycoproteins; mol wt ~120-140 kDa. Mediate tissue development by connecting cells bearing identical cadherin types via homophilic interactions. Loss of cadherin function has been associated with tumor metastasis. Two subfamilies have been identified: classic cadherins and the desmosomal cadherins, known as desmocollins and desmogleins, which differ from the classic cadherins primarily in the structure of the cytoplasmic domains. A number of classic cadherins have been identified; nomenclature is based on the cell from which they were first identified, e.g. E-, N- and P-cadherins from epithelial, neural, and placental cells, resp. Among subclasses, ~50% of amino acids are conserved within a particular species. Classic cadherins are complexed with cytoplasmic proteins known as catenins which anchor them to the actin-based cytoskeleton and are required for adhesive function. Review of discovery and characterization of cadherins: M. Takeichi, Development 102, 639-655 (1988); idem, Annu. Rev. Biochem. 59, 237-252 (1990); of properties and role in morphogenesis: idem, Science 251, 1451-1455 (1991); J. Behrens, Acta Anat. 149, 165-169 (1994). Review of interaction with catenins: R. Kemler, Trends Genet. 9, 317-321 (1993); L. Hinck et al., Trends Biochem. Sci. 19, 538-542 (1994). Review of role in tumor metastasis: M. Takeichi, Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 5, 806-811 (1993); W. Birchmeier, J. Behrens, Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1198, 11-26 (1994); O. W. Blaschuk et al., Endocrine 3, 83-89 (1995). Review of desmosomal cadherins: P. J. Koch, W. W. Franke, Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 6, 682-687 (1994).

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