Desmosomes are cell-cell junctions that mediate adhesion and couple the intermediate filament cytoskeleton to sites of cell-cell contact. This architectural arrangement integrates adhesion and cytoskeletal elements of adjacent cells. The importance of this robust adhesion system is evident in numerous human diseases, both inherited and acquired, which occur when desmosome function is compromised. This review focuses on autoimmune and infectious diseases that impair desmosome function. In addition, we discuss emerging evidence that desmosomal genes are often misregulated in cancer. The emphasis of our discussion is placed on the way in which human diseases can inform our understanding of basic desmosome biology and in turn, the means by which fundamental advances in the cell biology of desmosomes might lead to new treatments for acquired diseases of the desmosome.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology