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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2000 Nov;18(7):643-51.

Cadherins: molecular codes for axon guidance and synapse formation.

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The Burnham Institute, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The formation of the myriad of neuronal connections within the vertebrate nervous system relies on expression of molecular tags that match extending axon populations with synaptic target sites. Recent work suggests that cadherins, a group of calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules, are candidates to serve such a role. The diversity of the cadherin family in the nervous system allows for a multitude of interactions to specify neuronal connections. Specific cadherin types demarcate subpopulations of developing axons that interconnect within neuronal circuits. Expression of different cadherin species at select synapse populations raises exciting prospects for this molecule class in controlling adhesive interactions during synaptogenesis and plasticity. Regulation of cadherin-mediated adhesive strength is an attractive mechanism to explain the different cadherin functions in axon growth and at synapses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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