Editorials

Cell adhesion molecules

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7206.332 (Published 07 August 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:332

Sticky moments in the clinic

  1. Paul Murray, senior lecturer,
  2. G Frampton, senior lecturer,
  3. PN Nelson, senior lecturer
  1. School of Health Sciences, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton WV1 1DJ

    Cell adhesion molecules were first identified through their ability to allow cells to adhere to each other and to the extracellular matrix. We now know, however, that this group of cell surface receptors not only promotes adhesion but also allows cells to interact and communicate with each other and their environment and, in doing so, regulates a range of cell functions, including proliferation, gene expression, differentiation, apoptosis, and migration. A theme issue of Molecular Pathology, published this month, provides an opportunity to review work on cell adhesion, including its application to clinical practice.

    There are at least five groups of cell adhesion molecules: integrins, selectins, adhesion molecules belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily, cadherins, and the CD44 family. All cell adhesion molecules bind to other cells or matrix components through their interaction with appropriate counter-structures, referred to as a ligands. In some cases the ligands are themselves adhesion molecules, as is the case with the selectin family, whose ligands are members of the immunoglobulin superfamily, and vice versa.

    Cell adhesion molecules are critical to many normal physiological processes During embryogenesis, for example, the differential expression of adhesion molecules is responsible for the selective association of embryonic cells into specific tissues, and in the immune system adhesion molecules mediate the migration and homing of lymphocytes to specific tissues. Given their widespread importance it is not surprising that cell adhesion …

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