Cadherins (CDHs) are a class of calcium-dependent transmembrane proteins featured by the presence of at least 2 consecutive extracellular cadherin-specific motifs (cadherin repeats) with several conserved calcium-binding amino acid residues. They belong to a superfamily of adhesion molecules and mediate calcium-dependent homophilic cell-cell adhesion or cell-cell recognition, and signal transductions by interacting with cytoplasmic proteins. Cadherins are also responsible for the tissue morphogenesis and tumor suppression. As the Ca2+-dependent adhesion molecule, the classic cadherins in this group are the best studied. They include epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin, CDH1), neural cadherin (N-cadherin, CDH12), placental cadherin (P-cadherin, CDH3) together with retinal cadherin (R-cadherin). The classic cadherins are originally named after the tissue where they were first found, however, their distributions are definitely not limited to these tissues. Brain tissue expresses at least 20 types, and possibly more, the individual cadherin which functions the cell-cell interaction, differential neurite outgrowth, and locking in pre- and postsynaptic membranes at the synaptic junctional complex.
There are more than 100 different types of cadherins detected in vertebrates, which can be divided into four groups: classical, protocadherins, desmosomal, and unconventional types. This large number of diversity is performed by multiple cadherin encoding genes combined with alternative RNA splicing mechanisms. Here shows part of cadherin members in humans.
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