The desmosome as a model for lipid raft driven membrane domain organization

Stephanie E. Zimmer, Andrew P. Kowalczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Desmosomes are cadherin-based adhesion structures that mechanically couple the intermediate filament cytoskeleton of adjacent cells to confer mechanical stress resistance to tissues. We have recently described desmosomes as mesoscale lipid raft membrane domains that depend on raft dynamics for assembly, function, and disassembly. Lipid raft microdomains are regions of the plasma membrane enriched in sphingolipids and cholesterol. These domains participate in membrane domain heterogeneity, signaling and membrane trafficking. Cellular structures known to be dependent on raft dynamics include the post-synaptic density in neurons, the immunological synapse, and intercellular junctions, including desmosomes. In this review, we discuss the current state of the desmosome field and put forward new hypotheses for the role of lipid rafts in desmosome adhesion, signaling and epidermal homeostasis. Furthermore, we propose that differential lipid raft affinity of intercellular junction proteins is a central driving force in the organization of the epithelial apical junctional complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number183329
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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