Article

The molecular biology of desmosomes and hemidesmosomes: ?What's in a name?'

Department of Cell and Structural Biology, University of Manchester, UK.
BioEssays (Impact Factor: 4.84). 06/1992; 14(6):385-93. DOI: 10.1002/bies.950140608
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Desmosomes are junctions involved in intercellular adhesion of epithelial cells and hemidesmosomes are junctions involved in adhesion of epithelia to basement membranes. Both are characterised at the ultrastructural level by dense cytoplasmic plaques which are linked to the intermediate filament cytoskeleton of the cells. The plaques strongly resemble each other suggesting a relationship between the two kinds of junctions, as implied by their names. Recent characterisation of the molecular components of the junctions shows they are, in fact, quite unrelated implying that structural similarity is fortuitous. The molecular biology raises many fascinating problems relating to their structure and function.

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