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Cell adhesion molecules are proteins located at the
cell surface involved in binding with other cells or
with the extracellular matrix( ECM) in the process
called cell adhesion. Cell adhesion molecules help
cells stick to each other and their surroundings.

Cell adhesion

Intro continues.

Cell adhesion proteins are typically transmembrane

receptors and are composed of three domains:
An intracellular domain; that interact with the cytoskeleton
A transmembrane domain

An etxtracellular domain; that interact with either other

CAMs of the same kind(homophilic binding) or with other
CAMs or the extracellular matrix(heterophilic binding).

Importance of CAMs
Embryonic development; formation of
layers, tubes
Formation of the nervous system and other
Holding tissues together in adults
Wound healing
Metastasis of tumors

Families of CAMs

can be divided into four

broard families:
Adhesion molecules of the IgG
superfamily of immunoglobuline



Cadherins are calcium dependent molecules
that mediate cell to cell adhesion by homophilic
reactions. They form adherens junctions that
bind cells within tissues together.
Cadherins are important in formation of
nervous system and other tissues;
responsible for separation of different tissue
layers and for cellular migration during
embryonic development.
After development they play a role in
maintaining cell and tissue structure, and in
cellular movement.

cadherins allow cells to sort



Integrins are heterodimers that bind to

various receptors, whose ECM partner
molecules include; collagen,laminin and
Heterophilic connection/binding
They are transmembrane receptors that are
the bridges for cell to cell and cell to
extracellular matrix interactions.
Their role is to provide attachment of the cell
to the extracellular matrix, as well as signal
transduction from the extracellular matrix to
the cell

All selectins are single chain
transmembrane glycoproteins that bind to
sugar moieties and so are considered to be
a type of lectin, cell adhesion proteins that
bind sugar polymers.
Selectins are involved in constitutive
lymphocyte homing , and in chronic and
acute inflammation processes

Immunoglobululin superfamily(IgSF)
Immunoglobulin superfamily is a large group of
cell surface and soluble proteins that are involved
in the recognition, binding, or adhesion processes
of cells.
Homophilic binding typical
Heterophilic binding rare
Linked to actin filaments
Expressed in the critical phase of development
Tissue-specificity; epithelial, lymphoid, placenta


Barrett k, et al (2010), Ganongs Review of

Medical Physiology, 23rd Edition, McGrawHill companies, inc. USA