Structure, function, and regulation of desmosomes

Andrew P. Kowalczyk, Kathleen J. Green

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

174 Scopus citations


Desmosomes are adhesive intercellular junctions that mechanically integrate adjacent cells by coupling adhesive interactions mediated by desmosomal cadherins to the intermediate filament cytoskeletal network. Desmosomal cadherins are connected to intermediate filaments by densely clustered cytoplasmic plaque proteins comprising members of the armadillo gene family, including plakoglobin and plakophilins, and members of the plakin family of cytolinkers, such as desmoplakin. The importance of desmosomes in tissue integrity is highlighted by human diseases caused by mutations in desmosomal genes, autoantibody attack of desmosomal cadherins, and bacterial toxins that selectively target desmosomal cadherins. In addition to reviewing the well-known roles of desmosomal proteins in tissue integrity, this chapter also highlights the growing appreciation for how desmosomal proteins are integrated with cell signaling pathways to contribute to vertebrate tissue organization and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Molecular Biology of Cadherins
PublisherElsevier B.V.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780123943118
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameProgress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science
ISSN (Print)1877-1173

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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