DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Desmosome (also known as macula adherens) between heart muscle cells, coloured transmission electron micrograph (TEM). Desmosomes are intercellular junctions that provide strong adhesion between cells. Because they also link intracellularly to the intermediate filament cytoskeleton they form the adhesive bonds in a network that gives mechanical strength to tissues. Thus desmosomes are particularly abundant in tissues such as epidermis (epithelial cells) and myocardium (cardiac muscle cells) that are continually assailed by mechanical forces. When desmosomal adhesion fails, as in certain genetic and autoimmune diseases, tissues that are subjected to mechanical stress may fall apart. The desmosome intermediate filament complex (DIFC) is a network or scaffolding that maintains the integrity of such tissues. Magnification: x23,280 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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