Structural Biology of NCAM
The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) mediates Ca2+-independent cell-cell and cell-substratum adhesion via homophilic (NCAM-NCAM) and heterophilic (NCAM-non-NCAM molecules) binding. NCAM is highly expressed in the nervous system and plays a key role in neural development, regeneration and synaptic plasticity, including learning and memory consolidation. The questions in the structural biology of NCAM are mainly focused on the mechanism of cell-cell interactions and the regulation of the molecular interactions involved. Numerous attempts to elucidate the homophilic binding mechanism of NCAM have produced several seemingly contradicting models. In this review, we will detail the progress made to date in the field.