Protocadherins constitute a large family belonging to the cadherin superfamily and function in different tissues of a wide variety of multicellular organisms. Protocadherins have unique features that are not found in classic cadherins. Expression of protocadherins is spatiotemporally regulated and they are localized at synapses in the CNS. Although protocadherins have Ca(2+)-dependent homophilic interaction activity, the activities are relatively weak. Some protocadherins have heterophilic interaction activity and the cytoplasmic domains associate with the unique cytoplasmic proteins, which are essential for their biological functions. Given the characteristic properties, the large size, and the diversity of members of the protocadherin family, protocadherins may participate in various biological processes. In particular, protocadherins seem to play a central role(s) in the CNS as related to synaptic function.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.