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Annu Rev Neurosci. 2007;30:451-74.

Adhesion molecules in the nervous system: structural insights into function and diversity.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, 2Edward S. Harkness Eye Institute, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032 USA.


The unparalleled complexity of intercellular connections in the nervous system presents requirements for high levels of both specificity and diversity for the proteins that mediate cell adhesion. Here we describe recent advances toward understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie adhesive binding, specificity, and diversity for several well-characterized families of adhesion molecules in the nervous system. Although many families of adhesion proteins, including cadherins and immunoglobulin superfamily members, are utilized in neural and nonneural contexts, nervous system-specific diversification mechanisms, such as precisely regulated alternative splicing, provide an important means to enable their function in the complex context of the nervous system.

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