I am conducting structural studies of Drosophila
(DN)-cadherin, an invertebrate "classical" cadherin.
Like their orthologues in vertebrate species, invertebrate classical cadherins bind catenins to link to the actin
cytoskeleton and mediate intercellular adhesion. While they contain characteristic cadherin extracellular (EC)
domains, the extracellular segments of invertebrate classical cadherins have a distinct architecture, contain
divergent cadherin domains, and likely function in adhesion through a different mechanism than classical
cadherins from chordate species. Ultimately, we hope to decipher that mechanism to gain insight into the evolution
of cell-cell adhesion through comparison to the known mechanism of vertebrate classical cadherin molecules.