Bioinformatic characterization of the SynCAM family of immunoglobulin-like domain-containing adhesion molecules

Genomics. 2006 Jan;87(1):139-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ygeno.2005.08.017. Epub 2005 Nov 28.


SynCAM 1 (synaptic cell adhesion molecule 1, alternatively named Tslc1 and nectin-like protein 3) belongs to the immunoglobulin superfamily and is an adhesion molecule that operates in a variety of important contexts. Exemplary are its roles in adhesion at synapses in the central nervous system and as tumor suppressor. Here, I describe a family of genes homologous to SynCAM 1 comprising four genes found solely in vertebrates. All SynCAM genes encode proteins with three immunoglobulin-like domains of the V-set, C1-set, and I-set subclasses. Comparison of genomic with cDNA sequences provides their exon-intron structure. Alternative splicing generates isoforms of SynCAM proteins, and diverse SynCAM 1 and 2 isoforms are created in an extracellular region rich in predicted O-glycosylation sites. Protein interaction motifs in the cytosolic sequence are highly conserved among all four SynCAM proteins, indicating their critical functional role. These findings aim to facilitate the understanding of SynCAM genes and provide the framework to examine the physiological functions of this family of vertebrate-specific adhesion molecules.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / genetics
  • Amino Acid Motifs / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / genetics*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / physiology*
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Protein Modification, Translational / genetics
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Vertebrates / genetics


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal