A type of anchoring junction between neighboring cells forming a plaquelike site on the cell surface
Anchoring junctions are cell junctions that are anchored to one another and attached to components of the extracellular matrix. They are important in keeping the cells together and structural cohesion of tissues. They are commonly found in tissues that are prone to constant mechanical stress, e.g. skin and heart. There are three types of anchoring junctions. They are desmosomes, hemidesmosomes, and adherens junctions.
Both desmosomes and hemidesmosomes use intermediate filaments as their cytoskeletal anchor. However, the transmembrane linker of desmosomes is cadherin whereas that of hemidesmosomes is integrins. Desmosomes link cell to another cell. Hemidesmosomes link cell to the extracellular matrix.
Desmosomes are typically found in simple and stratified squamous epithelium. They aid in resisting shearing forces. They are also found between myocytes where they bind these cells to one another. They may appear as belt-like since they encircle the cell completely. Thus, they are referred to as belt desmosomes. Other desmosomes appear as spot-like, and thus, are called spot desmosomes.