Human cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) are essential for proper development, modulation, and maintenance of interactions between cells and cell-to-cell (and matrix-to-cell) communication about these interactions. Despite the differential functional significance of these roles, there have been surprisingly few systematic studies to enumerate the universe of CAMs and identify specific CAMs in distinct functions. In this paper, we update and review the set of human genes likely to encode CAMs with searches of databases, literature reviews, and annotations. We describe likely CAMs and functional subclasses, including CAMs that have a primary function in information exchange (iCAMs), CAMs involved in focal adhesions, CAM gene products that are preferentially involved with stereotyped and morphologically identifiable connections between cells (e.g., adherens junctions, gap junctions), and smaller numbers of CAM genes in other classes. We discuss a novel proposed mechanism involving selective anchoring of the constituents of iCAM-containing lipid rafts in zones of close neuronal apposition to membranes expressing iCAM binding partners. We also discuss data from genetic and genomic studies of addiction in humans and mouse models to highlight the ways in which CAM variation may contribute to a specific brain-based disorder such as addiction. Specific examples include changes in CAM mRNA splicing mediated by differences in the addiction-associated splicing regulator RBFOX1/A2BP1 and CAM expression in dopamine neurons.
- Cell adhesion molecules
- Lipid rafts
- Substance use disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- History and Philosophy of Science