Adhesion molecules in the nervous system: Structural insights into function and diversity

Lawrence Shapiro, James Love, David R. Colman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


The unparalleled complexity of intercellular connections in the nervous system presents requirements for high levels of both specificity and diversity for the proteins that mediate cell adhesion. Here we describe recent advances toward understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie adhesive binding, specificity, and diversity for several well-characterized families of adhesion molecules in the nervous system. Although many families of adhesion proteins, including cadherins and immunoglobulin superfamily members, are utilized in neural and nonneural contexts, nervous system-specific diversification mechanisms, such as precisely regulated alternative splicing, provide an important means to enable their function in the complex context of the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-474
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2007


  • Alternative splicing
  • Cadherin immunoglobulin superfamily
  • Cell adhesion
  • Integrin
  • Neurexin/neuroligin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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