Cell adhesion: old and new questions

Trends Cell Biol. 1999 Dec;9(12):M33-7.


Metazoans clearly need cell adhesion to hold themselves together, but adhesion does much more than that. Adhesion receptors make transmembrane connections, linking extracellular matrix and adjacent cells to the intracellular cytoskeleton, and they also serve as signal transducers. In this article, I briefly summarize our present understanding of the molecular basis and biological consequences of cell adhesion and discuss how our current knowledge sheds light on questions of specificity of cell adhesion. I offer some thoughts and speculations about the evolution of cell-adhesion molecules and processes, consider their inter-relationships with other forms of cell-cell communication and discuss unresolved questions ripe for investigation as we enter the postgenomic era.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Receptors, Cell Surface