Cell adhesion in development: a complex signaling network

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2003 Aug;13(4):365-71. doi: 10.1016/s0959-437x(03)00088-1.


Cell-adhesion molecules play a major role in morphogenesis and organogenesis. In vertebrates, a significant fraction of genes encode cell-adhesion molecules. Multiple signal-transduction pathways have been described that modulate the adhesion process. These pathways have been studied in great detail for cadherins and integrins - two major adhesion systems controlling cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions. Recent findings confirm that a given cell-adhesion molecule can be implicated at different stages of development in processes as diverse as cell positioning, tissue patterning and compartmentalization, axon guidance and synaptogenesis. Clearly, a wide variety of new biophysical techniques and genomic approaches will permit analysis of the roles of adhesive interactions in development to be addressed with far greater precision.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Embryo Implantation / physiology
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Epithelium / embryology
  • Heart / embryology
  • L-Selectin / metabolism
  • L-Selectin / physiology
  • Mesoderm
  • Morphogenesis
  • Nerve Net / embryology
  • Neural Crest / embryology
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Cadherins
  • L-Selectin