The CAR group of Ig cell adhesion proteins - regulators of gap junctions?
- F.G. Rathjen
- BioEssays 42 (12): e2000031
Members of the CAR group of Ig‐like type I transmembrane proteins mediate homotypic cell adhesion, share a common overall extracellular domain structure and are closely related at the amino acid sequence level. CAR proteins are often found at tight junctions and interact with intracellular scaffolding proteins, suggesting that they might modulate tight junction assembly or function. However, impairment of tight junction integrity has not been reported in mouse knockout models or zebrafish mutants of CAR members. In contrast, in the same knockout models deficits in gap junction communication were detected in several organ systems, including the atrioventricular node of the heart, smooth muscle cells of the intestine and the ureter and in Sertoli cells of the testes. Possible interactions between BT‐IgSF and connexin41.8 on the disturbed pattern of pigment stripes found in zebrafish mutants and between ESAM and connexin43 during hematopoiesis in the mouse are also discussed. On the basis of the combined data and phenotypic similarities between CAR member mutants and connexin mutants I hypothesize that they primarily play a role in the organization of gap junction communication.