Cadherins (Calcium dependent adhesion molecules) are a class of transmembrane proteins. Cadherin-5, also known as VE-cadherin, CDH5 and CD144, an endothelial specific cell-cell adhesion molecule, plays a pivotal role in the formation, maturation and remodeling of the vascular wall. VE-Cadherin is widely considered to be specific for vascular endothelia in which it is either the sole or the predominant cadherin, often co-existing with N-cadherin. This specificity of VE-cadherin for vascular endothelial cells is important not only in blood and lymph vessel biology and medicine, but also for cell-type-based diagnoses, notably those of metastatic tumors. As a classical cadherin, VE-Cadherin links endothelial cells together by homophilic interactions mediated by its extracellular part and associates intracellularly with the actin cytoskeleton via catenins. Mechanisms that regulate VE-cadherin-mediated adhesion are important for the control of vascular permeability and leukocyte extravasation. In addition to its adhesive functions, VE-Cadherin regulates various cellular processes such as cell proliferation and apoptosis and modulates vascular endothelial growth factor receptor functions. Consequently, VE-cadherin is essential during embryonic angiogenesis.
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