Scientists studying the adhesive properties of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) – a protein that helps bind the nervous system together – have found that two opposing models of cell adhesion are both correct.
“Our extremely sensitive technique allows us to directly measure how these proteins bind to one another, and to further explore the relationship between their structure and function,” said Deborah Leckband, a professor and head of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and corresponding author of a paper to be published the week of April 26 in the Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Important in neural development and for linking muscles to neurons, NCAM is a membrane-anchored protein that holds cells together through bonds formed between five modular regions called domains. Previous studies had generated two seemingly contradictory models for NCAM adhesion that involved different domains.
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