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The latest structural studies of immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecules are driving a shift in perspective; increasingly the view is not focused solely on the individual molecule but rather is on the molecular assembly. Two common themes are emerging, revealing mechanisms for ectodomain-dependent regulation of cell surface receptors' signalling abilities. The first is the propensity of many such molecules to arrange in zipper-type or array-type assemblies driven by a network of highly specific cis and trans interactions. The second is the use of the extracellular dimensions of a molecule or adhesion complex as properties which, in combination with characteristic intercellular spacings, can determine the co-localisation or exclusion of particular protein populations at cell interfaces and junctions.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Cell Biol

Publication Date





543 - 550


Animals, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Humans, Immunoglobulins, Models, Molecular, Polysaccharides, Protein Conformation, Signal Transduction