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Intercellular Junctions

Definition: Direct contact of a cell with a neighboring cell. Most such junctions are too small to be resolved by light microscopy, but they can be visualized by conventional or freeze-fracture electron microscopy, both of which show that the interacting CELL MEMBRANE and often the underlying CYTOPLASM and the intervening EXTRACELLULAR SPACE are highly specialized in these regions. (From Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2d ed, p792)
Notes: A 11 qualif except /cytol /transpl; /genet permitted
Previously Indexed: Cell Membrane (1966-1969)

Intercellular Junctions Categories.
Adherens Junctions - Anchoring points where the CYTOSKELETON of neighboring cells are connected to each other. They are composed of specialized areas of the plasma membrane where bundles of MICROFILAMENTS attach to the membrane through the transmembrane linkers, CADHERINS, which in turn attach through their extracellular domains to cadherins in the neighboring cell membranes. In sheets of cells, they form into adhesion belts (zonula adherens) that go all the way around a cell.
Desmosomes - A type of junction that attaches one cell to its neighbor. One of a number of differentiated regions which occur, for example, where the cytoplasmic membranes of adjacent epithelial cells are closely apposed. It consists of a circular region of each membrane together with associated intracellular microfilaments and an intercellular material which may include, for example, mucopolysaccharides. (From Glick, Glossary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1990; Singleton & Sainsbury, Dictionary of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, 2d ed)
Gap Junctions - Connections between cells which allow passage of small molecules and electric current. Gap junctions were first described anatomically as regions of close apposition between cells with a narrow (1-2 nm) gap between cell membranes. The variety in the properties of gap junctions is reflected in the number of CONNEXINS, the family of proteins which form the junctions.
Plasmodesmata - Membrane-like channels of cytoplasm connecting adjacent plant cells. Plasmodesmata connect through pores in the CELL WALL and associate with the CYTOSKELETON machinery. They are essential for intercellular transport and communication.
Tight Junctions - Cell-cell junctions that seal adjacent epithelial cells together, preventing the passage of most dissolved molecules from one side of the epithelial sheet to the other. (Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2nd ed, p22)

Intercellular Junctions Definitions and Terms

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