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J Dermatol Sci. 2007 Jan;45(1):7-21. Epub 2006 Dec 1.

Discriminating roles of desmosomal cadherins: beyond desmosomal adhesion.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, The R.H. Lurie Cancer Center, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, 303 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


The desmosomal cadherins, which include desmogleins and desmocollins, are Ca(2+)-dependent adhesion molecules that cooperate to make up the adhesive core of intercellular junctions known as desmosomes. The roles of desmosomal cadherins in epidermal integrity and as targets in human cutaneous disease have been well established. However, the molecular basis of these disorders is still poorly understood, due in part to a lack of fundamental knowledge about the organization of the adhesive interface and molecular machinery that dictates the proper presentation of desmogleins and desmocollins on the cell surface. Further, the diversity of the desmosomal cadherin family, and their individualized expression patterns within complex tissues, suggests that these adhesion molecules may have differentiation-specific functions that transcend their roles in intercellular adhesion. Here we will review the most recent data from our own group and others that are beginning to unveil the diverse properties and functions of this complex family of adhesion molecules.

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