Cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion: sticking together as a family

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2003 Dec;13(6):690-8. doi: 10.1016/


The cadherins comprise a family of single-pass transmembrane proteins critical for cell-cell adhesion in vertebrates and invertebrates. The recently determined structure of the whole ectodomain from C-cadherin suggests that the adhesion of cadherins presented by juxtaposed cells is mediated by a strand-swapped dimer in which core hydrophobic elements are exchanged between the partner molecules. Sequence analysis suggests that several cadherin subfamilies share this adhesive mechanism. Recent work has shed new light on the molecular basis of cadherin adhesion, although understanding the specificity of these interactions remains a major challenge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cadherins / chemistry*
  • Cadherins / classification
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Cadherins