Discovery and characterization of the cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules. An interview with Masatoshi Takeichi
Open Access | Published: 1 September 2004
Office for Science Communications and International Affairs, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan.
This article presents an interview with Masatoshi Takeichi, who is best known for his discovery of cadherins, which are of fundamental importance in the mechanisms of intercellular recognition and adhesion. He was the first to recognize that cell-cell adhesion involves two distinct mechanisms calcium-dependent and calcium-independent and to identify molecular bases for each. He named the molecule responsible for calcium-dependent adhesion 'cadherin', and went on to identify a group of related molecules, now known to form the core of what are collectively referred to as the cadherin family. These molecules are differentially expressed by tissue type and developmental stage, and function by allowing cells with compatible cadherins to recognize and bind to each other. His recent work focuses on the role of cadherins in neural network formation and cadherin-mediated controls of morphogenetic cell behavior. In addition to his ongoing research into cell adhesion and tissue patterning, he serves as director of the RIKEN Kobe Institute and Center for Developmental Biology (Kobe, Japan), one of the world's largest research institutes dedicated entirely to the study of the mechanisms of development and regeneration. He has received the Keio Medical Prize, the Ross Harrison Prize (International Society of Developmental Biologists) and been named a member of the Japan Academy in recognition of his scientific achievements.