Intercellular junctions are specialized regions of contact between the plasma membranes of adjacent cells. They are essential to any multicellular organism, providing the structural means by which groups of cells can adhere and interact. Within the integument of invertebrate organisms three main functional categories of junction can be identified: (1) Junctions that have an occluding function, allowing concentration gradients across an epithelium to be established and maintained; (2) Junctions that provide cell-cell or cell-substrate adhesion, allowing dissipation of local tensional stresses throughout a tissue; (3) Junctions which allow intercellular communication, providing the basis for the exchange of ions or low molecular weight substances between cells which are in intimate contact. Tight junctions, septate junctions and their tricellular components fall into the first category, belt, spot and hemidesmosomes into the second and gap junctions into the third.
KeywordsTight Junction Intercellular Junction Septate Junction Invertebrate Tissue Occlude Function
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