Research Articles

The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) as a regulator of cell-cell interactions

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Science  01 Apr 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4848, pp. 53-57
DOI: 10.1126/science.3281256


The neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) can influence a number of diverse intercellular events, including junctional communication, the association of axons with pathways and targets, and signals that alter levels of neurotransmitter enzymes. These pleiotropic effects appear to reflect the ability of NCAM to regulate membrane-membrane contact required to initiate specific interactions between other molecules. Such regulation can occur through changes in either NCAM expression or the molecule's content of polysialic acid (PSA). When NCAM with a low PSA content is expressed, adhesion is increased and contact-dependent events are triggered. In contrast, the large excluded volume of NCAM PSA can inhibit cell-cell interactions through hindrance of overall membrane apposition.

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