Adhesion of Neurons and Stabilization of Synapse

An unsung type of intercellular junction in the CNS is the punctum adherens: a small region of close contact and adhesion between adjacent cells. It corresponds to the zonula adherens on the lateral surfaces of cells in various epithelia (e.g., the simple columnar epithelium of the small intestine). In epithelia, the role of zonulae adherentes is obvious. They bind cells together and, with nearby occluding junctions, prevent the extracellular passage of materials that otherwise would leak past them. In the CNS, puncta adherentia hold nerve cells together and stabilize their points of synaptic contact, just as soldered circuits provide such stability. Without them and with sudden movements of the head, our central circuits might come unglued, neu-roglia or not.

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