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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. Jun 29, 1998; 353(1370): 857–870.
PMCID: PMC1692274

Tissue architecture: the ultimate regulator of epithelial function?

Abstract

The architecture of a tissue is defined by the nature and the integrity of its cellular and extracellular compartments, and is based on proper adhesive cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Cadherins and integrins are major adhesion-mediators that assemble epithelial cells together laterally and attach them basally to a subepithelial basement membrane, respectively. Because cell adhesion complexes are linked to the cytoskeleton and to the cellular signalling pathways, they represent checkpoints for regulation of cell shape and gene expression and thus are instructive for cell behaviour and function. This organization allows a reciprocal flow of mechanical and biochemical information between the cell and its microenvironment, and necessitates that cells actively maintain a state of homeostasis within a given tissue context. The loss of the ability of tumour cells to establish correct adhesive interactions with their microenvironment results in disruption of tissue architecture with often fatal consequences for the host organism. This review discusses the role of cell adhesion in the maintenance of tissue structure and analyses how tissue structure regulates epithelial function.

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Selected References

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