Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 5–11 | Cite as

Cadherins in tissue architecture and disease

  • Dietmar Vestweber
Molecules in Medicine


Cadherins are homophilic cell adhesion molecules that determine tissue architecture and control cell contact formation and dissociation in development and tissue homeostasis of all metazoans. These adhesion molecules mediate homophilic interactions between cells and are linked inside the cell via a complex set of cytosolic factors to the actin cytoskeleton. These interactions are key to the plasticity of intercellular junctions and to the various signaling functions of the cadherins. This forms the basis for cadherin-driven cell behavior, cell differentiation, and regeneration of tissue structures. Consequently, mutations in cadherins are the cause of various human pathologies, with cancer representing one of the most prominent examples.


Cell adhesion Cadherins Catenins Junctions Mechanotransduction Cancer 



I thank Stefan Butz for critically reading the manuscript and Annette Wintgens for the help with the figure. Work in the author’s laboratory was supported by the Max Planck Society and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB629, SFB 1009, SFB/TR128, Excellence Cluster CiM).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Molecular BiomedicineMünsterGermany

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