Adhesion Molecules

Adhesion Molecules & Markers

Adhesion molecules are important factors in the adaptive immune system. They are a broad class of cell surface glycoproteins which mediate a host of biological processes, such as cell migration and ECM attachment. Adhesion molecules are also critical in the adaptive immune response, where they allow for circulating T cells to bind and migrate through the endothelium. Many immune cells make use of adhesion molecules, and their functions and types vary across tissue systems.

Adhesion molecule families have unique binding sites which enable contact between different cellular and extracellular targets. More information on subtypes of adhesion molecules is listed below.


Cadherins are calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules. They facilitate cell to cell adhesion and also play a role in morphogenesis, cytoskeletal development, and cellular migration.

Flamingo Subfamily


Claudins are a family of proteins which are integral in tight junctions. Thus, they serve an important role in regulating the transmission of intracellular ions and molecules between cells. The type and amount of claudin in a tight junction varies across cell types.

Focal Adhesion Proteins

Focal adhesion proteins are large molecular complexes which aid in ECM and cytoskeleton binding. These complexes are generally enduring and associated with the transmission of mechanical stress and regulatory signals between the ECM and cell.

Kinases Localised to Focal Adhesions


Integrins are a family of transmembrane proteins with multiple roles in cellular adhesion and lifecycle. Integrins facilitate binding between adhesion molecules and ECM, and also aid in cellular migration during the immune response and development.


Nectins are widely expressed in the central nervous system. They facilitate cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation, and can affects cellular survival as well.


Lectins are cell surface proteins which bind specific sugars. They are an important component of self and non-self recogntion, and thus integral to the functioning immune system.

Ig Superfamily CAMS

immunoglobulin superfamily cell adhesion molecules are a vast and diverse collection of cell surface proteins. They are loosely defined by their Ig-like extracellular domain. They IgSF CAMs can be calcium-dependent or independent, and function to facilitate heterophilic and homophilic binding.