What are desmosomes?
All cells have an outer plasma membrane which allows the passage of selected molecules and ions from either inside the cell to the outside or from outside the cell to inside it.
Cells that are separated from each by a distance but which need to stay in place can be linked by structures known as desmosomes. The desmosomes are formed when protein accumulates at the cytoplasmic surface of separate cells and links together. This allows the adjacent cells to stay together even if the tissue is being stretched. An example of this is the skin.
Desmosomes do not form a means for transfer of ions or molecules from one cell to another. They only hold the cells in place so that tissue is not ruptured when it is stretched.
A desmosome, also known as macula adherens is a cell structure specialized for cell-to-cell adhesion. A type of junctional complex, they are localized spot-like adhesions randomly arranged on the lateral sides of plasma membranes.
Desmosomes help to resist shearing forces and are found in simple and stratified squamous epithelium. The intercellular space is very wide (about 30 nm). Desmosomes are also found in muscle tissue where they bind muscle cells to one another.