noun, plural: cadherins
Any of a family of cell adhesion molecules that facilitate cell to cell adhesion in a homophilic manner and only when calcium ions are bound to it
A cadherin generally has a cytoplasmic domain, a transmembrane domain, and an extracellular domain. The latter is comprised of five subdomains held together by calcium ions. Removal of these ions will result in the collapse of the extracellular domain, thus disrupts homophilic adhesion. This is why cadherins are described as calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules.
Cadherins are found in various cell types such as in epithelial cells (referred to as E-cadherin), nerve cells (as N-cadherin) and placental cells (as P-cadherin).