Desmosome cell junction en.svg
Cell adhesion in desmosomes
Latin desmosoma
Code TH H1.

A desmosome (Greek: desmos, band, soma, body), also known as macula adherens (plural: maculae adherentes) (Latin for adhering spot), is a cell structure specialized for cell-to-cell adhesion. A type of junctional complex, they are localized spot-like adhesions randomly arranged on the lateral sides of plasma membranes.

Desmosomes help to resist shearing forces and are found in simple and stratified squamous epithelium. The intercellular space is very wide (about 30 nm). Desmosomes are also found in muscle tissue where they bind muscle cells to one another.



Desmosomes are molecular complexes of cell adhesion proteins and linking proteins that attach the cell surface adhesion proteins to intracellular keratin cytoskeletal filaments.

The cell adhesion proteins of the desmosome, desmoglein and desmocollin, are members of the cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules. They are transmembrane proteins that bridge the space between adjacent epithelial cells by way of homophilic binding of their extracellular domains to other desmosomal cadherins on the adjacent cell. Both have five extracellular domains, and have calcium-binding motifs.

The extracellular domain of the desmosome is called the Extracellular Core Domain (ECD) or the Desmoglea, and is bisected by an electron-dense midline where the desmoglein and desmocollin proteins bind to each other. These proteins can bind in a W, S, or λ manner.

On the cytoplasmic side of the plasma membrane, there are two dense structures called the Outer Dense Plaque (ODP) and the Inner Dense Plaque (IDP). These are spanned by the Desmoplakin protein.[1] The Outer Dense Plaque is where the cytoplasmic domains of the cadherins attach to desmoplakin via plakoglobin and plakophillin. The Inner Dense Plaque is where desmoplakin attaches to the intermediate filaments of the cell.

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy

Mutations within the desmosome are the main cause of Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). It is a life threatening disease with the molecular underpinnings being the desmosomal constituents (in rank of highest mutation rates) Plakophilin2, Desmoplakin, Desmoglein2, Desmocollin2 and Plakoglobin. It often afflicts (although not exclusive to) young male athletes. The current incidence within the population is accepted as 1/10,000 however it is thought that 1/200 may have a mutation that may predispose to ARVC.[2]

Blistering diseases

If the connecting adjacent epithelial cells of the skin are not functioning correctly, layers of the skin can pull apart and allow abnormal movements of fluid within the skin, resulting in blisters and other tissue damage. Blistering diseases such as Pemphigus vulgaris and Pemphigus foliaceus are autoimmune diseases in which auto-antibodies target the proteins desmoglein 3 and desmoglein 1 respectively. The symptoms of the diseases are caused by the subsequent disruption to the desmosome-keratin filament complex leading to a breakdown in cell adhesion.

See also


  1. ^ Bornslaeger, E. A.; Corcoran, C. M.; Stappenbeck, T. S.; Green, K. J. (Aug 1996). "Breaking the connection: displacement of the desmosomal plaque protein desmoplakin from cell-cell interfaces disrupts anchorage of intermediate filament bundles and alters intercellular junction assembly" (Free full text). Journal of Cell Biology 134 (4): 985–1001. doi:10.1083/jcb.134.4.985. ISSN 0021-9525. PMC 2120955. PMID 8769422.  edit
  2. ^ Lahtinen, AM; Lehtonen, E, Marjamaa, A, Kaartinen, M, Heliö, T, Porthan, K, Oikarinen, L, Toivonen, L, Swan, H, Jula, A, Peltonen, L, Palotie, A, Salomaa, V, Kontula, K (2011). "Population-prevalent desmosomal mutations predisposing to arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.". Heart rhythm : the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society 8 (8): 1214–21. doi:10.1016/j.hrthm.2011.03.015. PMID 21397041. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • desmosome — ● desmosome nom masculin Zone différenciée de la paroi cellulaire, à travers laquelle se font les échanges chimiques rapides entre cellules voisines. desmosome [desmozom] n. m. ÉTYM. V. 1960 (in Manuila); du grec desmos « lien », et suff. some. ❖ …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • desmosome — desmosome. См. десмосома. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • desmosome — [dez′mə sōm΄] n. Cytology a beltlike or buttonlike structure in or on the surface of a cell, that helps to hold adjacent cells together …   English World dictionary

  • Desmosome — Schéma d un desmosome Un desmosome est une région où la membrane plasmique d une cellule adhère à la lame basale sous jacente ou à une cellule adjacente. La nature des filaments intermédiaires est variable (kératine dans les cellules épithéliales …   Wikipédia en Français

  • desmosome — A site of adhesion between two epithelial cells, consisting of a dense attachment plaque separated from a similar structure in the other cell by a thin layer of extracellular material. SYN: bridge corpuscle, macula adherens. [desmo + G. soma …   Medical dictionary

  • desmosome — n. an area of contact between two adjacent cells, occurring particularly in epithelia. The cell membranes at a desmosome are thickened and fine fibres (tonofibrils) extend from the desmosome into the cytoplasm …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • desmosome — n. [Gr. desmos, bond; soma, body] 1. That portion of a cell membrane specialized for adhesion to a neighboring cell. 2. (ARTHROPODA: Insecta) An attachment area between epidermal and muscle cells; the muscle fibrils of the muscles attach on one… …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • desmosome — (dè smo so m ) s. m. Terme de zoologie. Genre de coléoptères tétramères. Espèce unique : le desmosome longipède, du Brésil. ÉTYMOLOGIE    Termes grecs signifiant lien et corps …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • desmosome — noun Date: circa 1932 a specialized structure of the cell membrane especially of an epithelial cell that serves as a zone of adhesion to anchor contiguous cells together • desmosomal adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • desmosome — (= macula adherens junctions; spot desmosomes) Specialized cell junction characteristic of epithelia into which intermediate filaments (tonofilaments of cytokeratin) are inserted. The gap between plasma membranes is of the order of 25 30nm and… …   Dictionary of molecular biology

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