Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab


  • Martyn A. ChidgeyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_1586-4



Desmosomes are intercellular junctions that mediate cellular adhesion and maintain tissue integrity. They are found in epithelial cells, myocardial and Purkinje fiber cells of the heart, arachnoid cells of brain meninges, and follicular dendritic cells of lymph nodes.


Desmosomes are localized at sites of close cell-cell contact (Fig. 1a). They are less than 1 μm in diameter, have a highly organized structure at the ultrastructural level, and act as anchoring points for intermediate filaments of the cell cytoskeleton (Fig. 1b). By linking intermediate filaments of adjacent cells, desmosomes confer structural continuity and mechanical strength on tissues. Desmosomes are particularly prevalent in tissues, such as the epidermis and heart, that experience mechanical stress. The proteins that form desmosomes belong to three families, the desmosomal cadherins, the armadillo family, and the plakin family of cytolinkers.


Familial Adenomatous Polyposis Intermediate Filament Follicular Dendritic Cell Desmosomal Protein Staphylococcal Scald Skin Syndrome 
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See Also

  1. (2012) Epithelial Cell. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of Cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 1291–1292. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_1958Google Scholar
  2. (2012) Plakin Family. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of Cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, p 2899. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_4592Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Cancer SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK