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Nat Cell Biol. 2001 Sep;3(9):823-30.

Desmosomal adhesion regulates epithelial morphogenesis and cell positioning.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, 3.239 Stopford Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.


Desmosomes are intercellular junctions of epithelia and are of widespread importance in the maintenance of tissue architecture. We provide evidence that desmosomal adhesion has a function in epithelial morphogenesis and cell-type-specific positioning. Blocking peptides corresponding to the cell adhesion recognition (CAR) sites of desmosomal cadherins block alveolar morphogenesis by epithelial cells from mammary lumen. Desmosomal CAR-site peptides also disrupt positional sorting of luminal and myoepithelial cells in aggregates formed by the reassociation of isolated cells. We demonstrate that desmosomal cadherins and E-cadherin are comparably involved in epithelial morphoregulation. The results indicate a wider role for desmosomal adhesion in morphogenesis than has previously been considered.

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