EpCAM in morphogenesis

Front Biosci. 2008 May 1;13:5050-5. doi: 10.2741/3063.


Embryonic development is one of the most complex biological phenomena that involves the appropriate expression and synchronized interactions of a plethora of proteins, including cell adhesion molecules (CAMs). Many members of the diverse family of CAMs have been shown to be critically involved in the correct execution of embryonic development. The Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM) is an atypical cell adhesion molecule originally identified as a marker for carcinoma. However, recent insights have revealed that EpCAM participates in not only cell adhesion, but also in proliferation, migration and differentiation of cells. All of these processes are known to be fundamental for morphogenesis. Here, we review the current literature that establishes EpCAM as a protein involved in morphogenesis, starting from the earliest stages of embryogenesis and ending in organogenesis. In addition, we provide directions for further elucidation of the role of EpCAM in embryogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / physiology*
  • Embryonic Development*
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule
  • Humans
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Lung / embryology
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Organogenesis / physiology*
  • Pancreas / embryology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule