Invitrogen offers one of the most extensive portfolios of antibodies for studying cell adhesion and cell junctions.  This includes:

  • Antibodies to study all five types of cell junctions
  • Exclusive ABfinity™ antibodies—the next generation of antibodies
  • Conjugates to visualize a broad target range, with high specificity

See all cell junction antibodies

View our extensive references for cell junction antibodies.

What are Cell Junctions?

Cell junctions regulate small-molecule trafficking between cells, organization of cells into tissues, and adherence of cells to each other and the extracellular matrix. There are five main types of cell junctions (Figure 1):

Dysfunctional Junctions
Dysfunctional junctions are implicated in several diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and cardiovascular dysfunction. Understanding cell junctions is fundamental to understanding disease pathology.

Antodies Cell Junction

 Figure 1—Five cellular junctions. Illustration shows gap junctions, tight junctions, adherens junctions, desmosome junction,  and hemidesmosome junction.

Gap Junctions

Gap junctions are clusters of tightly packed channels that allow small molecules (metabolites, second messengers, and ions) to travel between adjoining cells [1]. This molecular exchange is essential during development and differentiation; it also creates cell proliferation, tumor suppression, cell death propagation, and survival-modulating signals [2]. These signals include connexins, and pannexin 1 and 2, important components of synapses [3]. Several kinases phosphorylate connexins and alter their functions:

  • V-src kinase
  • C-src kinase
  • PKC
  • MAPK
  • cdc2 kinase
  • casein kinase I
  • PKA

A number of other proteins, such as ZO-1, ZO-2, β-catenin, drebrin, α/β tubulin, caveolin-1, NOV, CIP85, and OCP2 also associate with connexins. Connexin-43 (CX43) and connexin-40 work together to form cell junctions, essential for proper heart atrium cell function (Figure 2).

Gap Junctions Antibodies

Figure 2—Connexin-40 and Connexin-43. Immunofluorescent staining of mouse heart atrium using Mouse anticonnexin-43 antibody (red) and Mouse anti-connexin-40 antibody (green). Image courtesy of James I. Nagy, PhD, University of Manitoba, Canada.

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Tight Junctions

Tight junctions barriers that regulate paracellular movements of solutes down their electro-osmotic gradients. They also act as a fence that maintains differential composition of basolateral and apical membrane domains, limiting diffusion of lipids and proteins between cellular compartments [4]. The main components of TJs are claudins, occludins, and junctional adhesion molecules (JAMs). Proteins such as ZO-1, ZO-2, ZO-3, MUPP-1, and PATJ colocalize with claudin proteins and together form tight junctions (Figure 3).

Claudin Tight Junctions

 Figure 3—Claudin proteins. Immunofluorescence staining of frozen mouse jejunum tissue using Mouse anti-Claudin-1 (red), and Mouse anti ZO-1 is labeled in green; nuclei are stained with DAPI (blue). Image courtesy of Jennifer Holmes and Dr. James Anderson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC.

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Adherens Junctions

Adherens junctions are the building blocks of tissue architecture. The main components are cadherins and catenins. These proteins form cell−cell junctions (Figure 4), and can facilitate signaling pathways such as AKT, Wnt, and MAPK to govern morphogenesis, tissue homeostasis, and even intercellular communication [5]. Disruption of AJs promotes tumor cell invasion and metastasis [6].

Adherens Junction Antibodies

 Figure 4—Cell junctions. Immunohistochemistry of mouse hippocampus using AF-6 ABfinity™ Recombinant Rabbit Monoclonal Antibody, at 1 ug/ml. Goat anti Rabbit Alexa Fluor® 488 was used as secondary antibody. Image provided by Jim Nagy, Canada.

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Desmosomes and Hemidesmosomes

Desmosomes and hemidesmosomes are specialized in cell−cell and cell–extracellular matrix adhesion, respectively [7]. They are important in cytoskeletal organization, cell signaling, and tissue patterning. The main components of desmosomes are cadherins (desmogleins and desmocollins). Hemidesmosomes employ integrins as their primary cell adhesion proteins.