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Cell. 1999 Jun 11;97(6):779-90.

A striking organization of a large family of human neural cadherin-like cell adhesion genes.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


We have identified 52 novel human cadherin-like genes organized into three closely linked clusters. Comparison of the genomic DNA sequences with those of representative cDNAs reveals a striking genomic organization similar to that of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor gene clusters. The N-terminal extracellular and transmembrane domains of each cadherin protein are encoded by a distinct and unusually large exon. These exons are organized in a tandem array. By contrast, the C-terminal cytoplasmic domain of each protein is identical and is encoded by three small exons located downstream from the cluster of N-terminal exons. This unusual organization has interesting implications regarding the molecular code required to establish complex networks of neuronal connections in the brain and the mechanisms of cell-specific cadherin-like gene expression.

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