Cadherins are a superfamily of transmembrane proteins that mediate calcium-dependent intercellular adhesion. T-cadherin (T-cad, H-cadherin or cadherin-13) is an atypical member, lacking transmembrane and cytosolic domains and possessing a glycosylphosphatidylinositol moiety that anchors T-cadherin to the plasma membrane. This article reviews current knowledge on the biomolecular characteristics of T-cadherin, its expression and function in different tissues in health and disease and its mechanisms of signal transduction. The structural characteristics of T-cadherin protein predict that it is unlikely to function as a "true" adhesion molecule in vivo. Studies from different fields suggest that it may act rather as a signalling receptor participating in recognition of the environment and regulation of cell motility, proliferation and phenotype. Cellular expression levels of T-cadherin in various tissues frequently correlate (be it negatively or positively) with the proliferative potential of the cells. Loss- and gain-of-function studies demonstrate the ability of T-cadherin to modulate cell motility and growth. Gathering evidence suggests that the "functional predestination" of T-cadherin is in control of tissue architecture through "guiding" navigation of moving structures, segregating functional tissue compartments and "guarding" integrity of functionally connected tissue layers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology