Desmosomes: new perpetrators in tumour suppression

Nat Rev Cancer. 2011 May;11(5):317-23. doi: 10.1038/nrc3051.


Adherens junctions, which are intercellular adhesive complexes that are crucial for maintaining epithelial homeostasis, are downregulated in many cancers to promote tumour progression. However, the role of desmosomes - adhesion complexes that are related to adherens junctions - in carcinogenesis has remained elusive. Recent studies using mouse genetic approaches have uncovered a role for desmosomes in tumour suppression, demonstrating that desmosome downregulation occurs before that of adherens junctions to drive tumour development and early invasion, suggesting a two-step model of adhesion dysfunction in cancer progression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / physiology
  • Animals
  • Desmosomes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Processes*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / physiology*


  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins