Adhesion networks of cnidarians: A postgenomic view

Richard P Tucker, Josephine C. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) and cell-cell adhesion systems are fundamental to the multicellularity of metazoans. Members of phylum Cnidaria were classified historically by their radial symmetry as an outgroup to bilaterian animals. Experimental study of Hydra and jellyfish has fascinated zoologists for many years. Laboratory studies, based on dissection, biochemical isolations, or perturbations of the living organism, have identified the ECM layer of cnidarians (mesoglea) and its components as important determinants of stem cell properties, cell migration and differentiation, tissue morphogenesis, repair, and regeneration. Studies of the ultrastructure and functions of intercellular gap and septate junctions identified parallel roles for these structures in intercellular communication and morphogenesis. More recently, the sequenced genomes of sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, Hydra magnipapillata, and coral Acropora digitifera have opened up a new frame of reference for analyzing the cell-ECM and cell-cell adhesion molecules of cnidarians and examining their conservation with bilaterians. This chapter integrates a review of literature on the structure and functions of cell-ECM and cell-cell adhesion systems in cnidarians with current analyses of genome-encoded repertoires of adhesion molecules. The postgenomic perspective provides a fresh view on fundamental similarities between cnidarian and bilaterian animals and is impelling wider adoption of species from phylum Cnidaria as model organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-377
Number of pages55
JournalInternational Review of Cell and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 2014


  • Anthozoa
  • Cell-cell adhesion
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Hydrozoa
  • Mesoglea
  • Morphogenesis
  • Multicellularity
  • Regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry


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