SYG/Nephrin/IrreC Family of Adhesion Proteins Mediate Asymmetric Cell–Cell Adhesion in Development
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A hallmark of the development of the multicellular organisms is the cell–cell interaction. One specific type of cellular junction structures that is essential for the function of the nervous system is the chemical synapses. Chemical synapses release chemicals from neurons to their target cells to transmit electrical signals. To establish and maintain such a junctional structure, transsynaptic adhesion molecules play important roles at different developmental stages. Indeed, a number of adhesion molecules have been implicated in the various stages of the “life” of synapses to bring and hold the pre- and postsynaptic partners together in developing and mature synapses. Relatively little is known about which membrane molecules mediate the initial recognition during the process of synaptogenesis. In this chapter, we will focus our discussion on the IrreC/Nephrin/SYG-1 family of adhesion molecules, whose function in synaptic target selection has been studied in much detail in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Interestingly, the members of this family in Drosophila and vertebrates also play essential functions in mediating the cellular recognition in myoblast fusion, eye morphogenesis, and kidney slit membrane formation. These findings suggest that this group of adhesive molecules carry out asymmetric cellular recognition events in diverse developmental events.
KeywordsAdhesion molecules Immunoglobulin Superfamily Proteins synapse formation synaptic specificity
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