noun, plural: hemidesmosomes
A type of anchoring junction between neighboring cells forming a rivet-like links between the cell and the extracellular matrix
Anchoring junctions are cell junctions that are anchored to one another and attached to components of the extracellular matrix. They are important in keeping the cells together and structural cohesion of tissues. They are commonly found in tissues that are prone to constant mechanical stress, e.g. skin and heart. There are three types of anchoring junctions. They are desmosomes, hemidesmosomes, and adherens junctions.
Both desmosomes and hemidesmosomes use intermediate filaments as their cytoskeletal anchor. However, the transmembrane linker of desmosomes is cadherin whereas that of hemidesmosomes is integrins.1 Desmosomes link cell to another cell. Hemidesmosomes link cell to the extracellular matrix. Hemidesmosomes are typically found on the basal surface of certain cells, e.g. basal lamina. Similar to desmosomes, particularly spot desmosomes, hemidesmosomes have an attachment plaque on the inside of the cell membrane with keratin filaments inside the cell attaching to the plaque.2
Word origin: Ancient Greek desmós (“link, connection”) + -some
1 Gipson, I. K., Spurr-Michaud, S. J., & Tisdale A. S. (April 1988). “Hemidesmosomes and anchoring fibril collagen appear synchronously during development and wound healing”. Dev. Biol. 126 (2): 253–62.
2 Quick review: the 5 main intercellular junctions. Retrieved from ://www.pathologystudent.com/?p=9739.