Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) play a pivotal role in the development and maintenance of the nervous system under normal conditions. They also are involved in numerous pathological processes such as inflammation, degenerative disorders, and cancer, making them attractive targets for drug development. The majority of CAMs are signal transducing receptors. CAM-induced intracellular signalling is triggered via homophilic (CAM-CAM) and heterophilic (CAM - other counter-receptors) interactions, which both can be targeted pharmacologically. We here describe the progress in the CAM pharmacology focusing on cadherins and CAMs of the immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily, such as NCAM and L1. Structural basis of CAM-mediated cell adhesion and CAM-induced signalling are outlined. Different pharmacological approaches to study functions of CAMs are presented including the use of specific antibodies, recombinant proteins, and synthetic peptides. We also discuss how unravelling of the 3D structure of CAMs provides novel pharmacological tools for dissection of CAM-induced signalling pathways and offers therapeutic opportunities for a range of neurological disorders.
Keywords: Recombinant, peptide, ligand, NCAM, cadherin, L1, pharmacology
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