Laminins are trimeric molecules consisting of an alpha chain, a beta chain, and a gamma chain, arranged in a cross-like structure with their C-termini coiled (Figure 1.4).45 Mammals express at least five alpha chains, three beta chains, and three gamma chains; however, not all of these are present at the NMJ. Distinct genes encode each subunit, and the expression patterns are often dynamic during development. The laminin trimers have several domains in common, including N-terminal globular domains, EGF repeats, coiled-coil domains, and C-terminal globular domains (Figure 1.4). The laminins are known to act as ligands for integrins and other cell-surface receptors such as dystroglycan.
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