Clustered protocadherins mediate neuronal self-recognition and non-self discrimination—neuronal “barcoding”—which underpin neuronal self-avoidance in vertebrate neurons. Recent structural, biophysical, computational, and cell-based studies on protocadherin structure and function have led to a compelling molecular model for the barcoding mechanism. Protocadherin isoforms assemble into promiscuous cis-dimeric recognition units and mediate cell–cell recognition through homophilic trans-interactions. Each recognition unit is composed of two arms extending from the membrane proximal EC6 domains. A cis-dimeric recognition unit with each arm coding adhesive trans homophilic specificity can generate a zipper-like assembly that in turn suggests a chain termination mechanism for self-vs-non-self-discrimination among vertebrate neurons.
- Cell-cell recognition
- Clustered protocadherins
- Crystal structure
- Neuronal self-avoidance
- Protein interaction specificity