Zippers make signals: NCAM-mediated molecular interactions and signal transduction

Neurochem Res. 2004 Nov;29(11):2015-35. doi: 10.1007/s11064-004-6875-z.


The neural cell adhesion molecule, NCAM, is involved in multiple cis- and trans-homophilic interactions (NCAM binding to NCAM) thereby facilitating cell-cell adhesion through the formation of zipper-like NCAM-complexes. NCAM is also involved in heterophilic interactions with a number of proteins and extracellular matrix molecules. Some of these heterophilic interactions are mutually exclusive, and some interfere with or are dependent on homophilic NCAM interactions. Furthermore, both homo- and heterophilic interactions are modulated by posttranslational modifications of NCAM. Heterophilic NCAM-interactions initiate several intracellular signal transduction pathways ultimately leading to biological responses involving cellular differentiation, proliferation, migration and survival. Both homo- and heterophilic NCAM-interactions can be mimicked by synthetic peptides, which can induce NCAM-like signalling, and in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that such NCAM mimetics may be used for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / chemistry
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules