The desmosomal plaque and the cytoskeleton.

W. W. Franke, P. Cowin, M. Schmelz, H. P. Kapprell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Two major plasma membrane domains are involved in the architectural organization of the cytoskeleton. Both are junctions of the adherens category characterized by the presence of dense plaques associated with the cytoplasmic surface of their membranes. The plaques serve as specific anchorage structures for two different types of cytoplasmic filaments. Intermediate-sized filaments (IF) of several types, i.e. cytokeratin IF in epithelial cells, desmin IF in cardiac myocytes and vimentin IF in arachnoidal cells of meninges, meningiomas and several other cells, attach to the desmosomal plaques, whereas actin-containing microfilaments associate with non-desmosomal adhering junctions such as the zonula adherens, fascia adherens and punctum adherens. The plaques of both kinds of adhering junctions contain a common acidic polypeptide of Mr 83,000 identical to 'band 5 protein' of bovine snout epidermal desmosomes. However, other plaque components are mutually exclusive to one of the two subclasses of adhering junctions. The desmosomal plaque structure, which does not contain vinculin and alpha-actinin, comprises representatives of cytoplasmic, non-membrane-integrated proteins such as desmoplakin(s) and the cytoplasmic portions of transmembrane glycoproteins such as 'band 3 glycoprotein'. The analysis of both categories of junction-associated plaques should provide a basis for understanding the establishment and the dynamics of junction-cytoskeleton interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-48
Number of pages23
JournalCiba Foundation symposium
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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