Sunday, February 1, 2009

Adhesive junction – let’s stick together

As the name implies, adhesive junction glues adjacent cells together. There are two kinds of adhesive junction in cells: the belt desmosome and the spot desmosome.

Both belt and spot desmosomes are made up of adhesion proteins that form a kind of bridge between cells and anchor this bridge to cytoplasmic elements inside cells. The two differ only on how the bridge is formed.

Belt desmosomes form a complete ring of bridge around cells while spot desmosomes form the bridge only at certain points or spots between cells.

If the desmosome between cells do not form well, then the cells can come off in layers and fluid will accumulate between them. This is what happens when a blister is formed. Notice that a piece of skin (layer of cells) separates from the underlying cells and fluid fills the space created. Eventually, the blister dries up and the separated piece of skin dies and peels off.

In this case, the adhesive junction or bridge between cells collapses.

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