Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 65, Issue 23, pp 3756–3788

The cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin


DOI: 10.1007/s00018-008-8281-1

Cite this article as:
van Roy, F. & Berx, G. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2008) 65: 3756. doi:10.1007/s00018-008-8281-1


This review is dedicated to E-cadherin, a calcium-dependent cell-cell adhesion molecule with pivotal roles in epithelial cell behavior, tissue formation, and suppression of cancer. As founder member of the cadherin superfamily, it has been extensively investigated. We summarize the structure and regulation of the E-cadherin gene and transcript. Models for E-cadherin-catenin complexes and cell junctions are presented. The structure of the E-cadherin protein is discussed in view of the diverse functions of this remarkable protein. Homophilic and heterophilic adhesion are compared, including the role of E-cadherin as a receptor for pathogens. The complex post-translational processing of E-cadherin is reviewed, as well as the many signaling activities. The role of E-cadherin in embryonic development and morphogenesis is discussed for several animal models. Finally, we review the multiple mechanisms that disrupt E-cadherin function in cancer: inactivating somatic and germline mutations, epigenetic silencing by DNA methylation and epithelial to mesenchymal transition-inducing transcription factors, and dysregulated protein processing.


E-cadherincell junctioncateninstructure-function relationshipsignalingmorphogenesistumor suppressor

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Molecular Biomedical ResearchMolecular Cell Biology UnitGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Molecular BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Department for Molecular Biomedical ResearchMolecular and Cellular Oncology UnitGhentBelgium