Roles and modes of action of nectins in cell-cell adhesion

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2004 Dec;15(6):643-56. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2004.09.002.


Nectins are Ca(2+)-independent immunoglobulin (Ig)-like cell-cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), which comprise a family consisting of four members. Each nectin homophilically and heterophilically trans-interacts and causes cell-cell adhesion. Biochemical, cell biological, and knockout mice studies have revealed that nectins play important roles in formation of many types of cell-cell junctions and cell-cell contacts, including cadherin-based adherens junctions (AJs) and synapses. Mode of action of nectins in the formation of AJs has extensively been investigated. Nectins form initial cell-cell adhesion and recruit E-cadherin to the nectin-based cell-cell adhesion sites. In addition, nectins induce activation of Cdc42 and Rac small G proteins, which eventually enhances the formation of cadherin-based AJs through the reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. Nectins furthermore heterophilically trans-interact with nectin-like molecules (Necls), other Ig-like CAMs, and assist or modify their various functions, such as cell adhesion, migration, and proliferation. We describe here the roles and modes of action of nectins as CAMs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology*
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Line
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Nectins
  • Protein Binding
  • Sertoli Cells / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism


  • Cadherins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Nectins
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein
  • Calcium