Cadherins constitute a family of transmembrane glycoproteins involved in Ca2+-dependent cell-cell interactions. The members of this family are differentially expressed in various tissues. They function in the maintenance of tissue integrity and morphogenesis. The cadherins generally contain five extracellular repeats, a transmembrane domain and a cytoplasmic tail that binds to the catenin family of cytoskeletal anchoring proteins which also function as signal transducers. The extracellular domains are responsible for the specificity of homophilic interactions between cells expressing the same cadherin. Cadherins are divided into type I and type II subgroups. Type I cadherins include epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin, cadherin-1 or uvomorulin), neural cadherin (N-cadherin or cadherin-2), placental cadherin (P-cadherin or cadherin-3) and retinal cadherin (R-cadherin or cadherin-4). Kidney cadherin (K-cadherin or cadherin-6) and osteoblast cadherin (OB-cadherin or cadherin-11) are type II cadherins. Cadherin-6 is expressed in the proximal tubule epithelium of the kidney from which most renal cell carcinomas are derived.
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