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The crystal structure of the ligand binding module of axonin-1/TAG-1 suggests a zipper mechanism for neural cell adhesion.

Freigang J., Proba K., Leder L., Diederichs K., Sonderegger P., Welte W.

We have determined the crystal structure of the ligand binding fragment of the neural cell adhesion molecule axonin-1/TAG-1 comprising the first four immunoglobulin (Ig) domains. The overall structure of axonin-1(Ig1-4) is U-shaped due to contacts between domains 1 and 4 and domains 2 and 3. In the crystals, these molecules are aligned in a string with adjacent molecules oriented in an anti-parallel fashion and their C termini perpendicular to the string. This arrangement suggests that cell adhesion by homophilic axonin-1 interaction occurs by the formation of a linear zipper-like array in which the axonin-1 molecules are alternately provided by the two apposed membranes. In accordance with this model, mutations in a loop critical for the formation of the zipper resulted in the loss of the homophilic binding capacity of axonin-1.

Cell 101:425-433(2000) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]