THE CADHERIN SUPERFAMILY: BIOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND NEUROLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Zaharieva I*
*Corresponding Author: Dr. Irina Zaharieva, Department of Medical Genetics, Medical University Sofia, 2 Zdrave str, 1431 Sofia, Bulgaria; Tel./Fax: +359-2-952-03-57; E-mail: irinazaharieva@yahoo.co.uk
page: 19

Abstract

The cadherins have emerged as a growing superfamily of molecules with a complex structure and functions. Most cadherins are transmembrane proteins that play an impor­tant role in cell adhesion by mediating Ca2+-dependent cell-cell interaction during development and tissue mor­phogenesis. These proteins can be grouped into several subfamilies: classical, desmosomal, seven-pass transmem­brane (7TM), the FAT family, T-cadherin and protocad­herins. Originally considered as cell adhesion molecules, cadherins are now known for their participation in many biological processes such as cell recognition, cell commu­nication, cell signaling, morphogenesis and possibly even in the correct development and functioning of the brain. Research of the molecular events leading to the establish­ment of complex and organized networks of neuronal con­nections in the central nervous system can provide further insight in the processes that lead to diverged brain func­tions, as well as the molecular basis of psychiatric disor­ders. In the recent years, schizophrenia has been increas­ingly seen as a neurodevelopment disorder. In the brain of schizophrenia patients there are no classical degenerative changes. These findings can lead to a hypothesis that spe­cific molecules which are necessary for correct develop­ment and function of the brain are responsible for defects in the synaptic connectivity.

      Key words: Cadherins, Cell adhesion(s), Protocad­herins, Synapses, Schizophrenia

 




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