Solution structure of the epithelial cadherin domain responsible for selective cell adhesion

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Science  20 Jan 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5196, pp. 386-389
DOI: 10.1126/science.7824937


Cadherins are calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules containing extracellular repeats of approximately 110 amino acids. The three-dimensional structure of the amino-terminal repeat of mouse epithelial cadherin was determined by multidimensional heteronuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The calcium ion was bound by a short alpha helix and by loops at one end of the seven-stranded beta-barrel structure. An exposed concave face is in a position to provide homophilic binding specificity and was also sensitive to calcium ligation. Unexpected structural similarities with the immunoglobulin fold suggest an evolutionary relation between calcium-dependent and calcium-independent cell adhesion molecules.

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