Desmosomes have long been appreciated as intercellular junctions that are vital for maintaining the structural integrity of stratified epithelia. More recent clinical investigations of patients with diseases such as arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy have further highlighted the importance of desmosomes in cardiac tissue, where they help to maintain coordination of cardiac myocytes. Here, we review clinical and mechanistic studies that provide insight into the functions of desmosomal proteins in skin and heart during homeostasis and in disease. While intercellular junctions are organized differently in cardiac and epithelial tissues, studies conducted in epithelial systems may inform our understanding of cardiac desmosomes. We explore traditional and non-traditional roles of desmosomal proteins, ranging from adhesive capacities to nuclear functions. Finally, we discuss how these studies can guide future investigations focused on determining the molecular mechanisms by which desmosomal mutations promote the development of cardiac diseases.
- Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy
- area composita
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology