Selective cell adhesions in animal development

Involvement of the selectins in leukocyte capture, rolling, and firm adhesion:
Cell-cell adhesion of like cells is the foundation of the multicellular structure. For example, epithelial cells adhere to each other and form the epithelial lining of the small intestine. The interaction of cells is purely based on molecular reactions at the surface of cells. Molecular reactions take place with the help of special molecules called cell-adhesion molecules (CAMs). Cell-adhesion molecules identify different ligands at cell junctions before binding to them. There are four main types of cell-adhesion molecules in mammals: These are as follows:



Immunoglobin super family


Cells attach to their neighboring cells or the extracellular matrix at a specific type of cell junctions. These cell junctions are called anchoring junctions. These junctions are essential requirements for the formation of tissues. Anchoring junctions are basically of the following three types:-

Desmosomes – Desmosomes connect one cell to another with the help of cadherins.

Hemidesmosomes – Hemidesmosomes connect one cell to another with an extracellular matrix with the help of integrins.

Adherens junctions – These help in joining cell to cell and cell to an extracellular matrix with the help of both integrins and cadherins.

Role of Cadherins in Cell-Cell Adhesion:
Cadherins are calcium-dependent cell-adhesion molecules. Desmosomes and adherens junctions make use of cadherins to create protein complexes for cell-cell attachment. In desmosome protein complexes, a bridge-type structure is made between cadherins of each cell. This protein complex is extremely useful in providing strong mechanical strength. Due to their strong mechanical strength, desmosome complexes are abundantly found in the epidermis tissue and the heart as these are frequently subjected to mechanical stress.

Cadherins interact with actin filaments in adherens junction. This type of interaction is through intermediate anchor proteins, known as catenins. Epithelial and endothelial are common tissues where this type of cell-cell adhesion is found. Calcium plays an important role in cadherin functional activity, It maintains the rigid structure, which is an essential factor required for binding. At the ionic level, we can say that calcium ions provide an inflexible structure as they are present between each pair of cadherins. On the other hand, the rigidity of the adhesion structure has a positive correlation with the number of calcium ions present.

Role of Integrins in Cell-Cell Adhesion:
The integrins are an essential family of cell adhesion receptors. They have a role in adhesive interactions either between cells or between the cell and the extracellular matrix. These adhesive conditions are major for tissue organization and cell migration. They perform a key function in various processes. Some of these methods are platelet aggregation, immune system function, tissue regeneration at the time of wound healing, migration of epithelial cells at the time of epigenesis, peripheral nerve regeneration, and organization of cells at the time of embryonic development.

Additionally to its function in normal cellular function, adhesion is also applied in a broad diversity of human diseases such as inflammation, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, tumor metastasis, thrombosis, ulceration, and microbial and parasitic infection. Deciding the mechanisms under adhesion is likely to assists in making strategies for intervention in these diseases.

Role of Selectins in Cell-Cell Adhesion

Specific adhesive features of white blood cells rely on selectins. In areas of inflammation, leukocyte recruitment from the circulation side into tissues need leukocytes to communicate with vascular endothelial cells. Leukocyte-endothelial cell communications are intervened in part by cell-surface adhesion molecules involving members of the integrin, selectin, and immunoglobulin families. Through supportive interactions, these receptors mediate leukocyte capture from the flowing blood, firm adhesion, rolling, and subsequent extravasation. The selectin family of adhesion molecules mainly enables the first attachment of leukocytes to endothelial cells, which assists in leukocytes to roll alongside the venular wall. The selectin family is composed of three closely related cell-surface molecules: E-selectin, L-selectin, and P-selectin. The differential appearance and role of the selectins by diverse leukocyte subclasses and various beds of vascular endothelium permits for considerable specificity in leukocyte movement into tissues at areas of inflammation, wound healing, and immune reactions.

Selective Cell-Cell Adhesion in Animal Development:
Selective cell-cell adhesion is of utmost importance for the development of tissues and ultimately organs and organ systems. Formation of tissues that involves cell migration, selective cell-cell adhesion becomes even more important. In these types of tissues, a colony of cells occupies another colony and joins with it. It then forms an organized structure.

Migration of cells to form different types of tissues

Let us clarify this by taking an example of vertebrate embryos. In the initial stage of embryo development, cells from the neural crest move away from the epithelial neural tube. These cells then move along specific pre-defined paths to many other regions of the embryo. On reaching a specific region, they assemble and other cells to differentiate into a variety of body tissues.

It has been scientifically observed that some cells that were initially part of the epithelial neural tube change their adhesive properties. They then separate from the epithelium tissue to form the neural crest. These cells then move away and form different types of cells and eventually tissues throughout the embryo.

In the image shown below, assembling and differentiating neural crest cells to form two collections of nerve cells, called ganglia, is depicted. Other neural crest cells differentiate to become supporting cells that surround the neurons.

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