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EMBO Rep. 2008 Aug;9(8):742-7. doi: 10.1038/embor.2008.123. Epub 2008 Jul 4.

Deciphering the functional role of endothelial junctions by using in vivo models.

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  • 1IFOM, FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology, Via Adamello 16, 20139 Milan, Italy.


Endothelial cell-to-cell junctions are vital for the formation and integrity of blood vessels. The main adhesive junctional complexes in endothelial cells, adherens junctions and tight junctions, are formed by transmembrane adhesive proteins that are linked to intracellular signalling partners and cytoskeletal-binding proteins. Gene inactivation and blocking antibodies in mouse models have revealed some of the functions of the individual junctional components in vivo, and are increasing our understanding of the functional role of endothelial cell junctions in angiogenesis and vascular homeostasis. Adherens-junction organization is required for correct vascular morphogenesis during embryo development. By contrast, the data available suggest that tight-junction proteins are not essential for vascular development but are necessary for endothelial barrier function.

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