Cadherins belong to a superfamily of cell-cell adhesion receptors that bind to the same type of molecules (homotypic interaction) in a calcium dependent manner. Different members of the family are found in a wide variety of cell types and cadherin adhesive function plays a role in cell fate, segregation, and differentiation, which ensures the higher order of organisation found in many tissues. This review will focus on the role that cadherin adhesiveness plays in the differentiation of epithelial cells, and how cadherin function can be regulated by proteins of the small GTPase family. In the text, readers are referred to recent reviews and other chapters covering important topics that are not discussed here because of space limitation.
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