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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2009 Dec;1(6):a002899. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a002899. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Adherens junction: molecular architecture and regulation.

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  • 1RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0047, Japan.


The adherens junction (AJ) is an element of the cell-cell junction in which cadherin receptors bridge the neighboring plasma membranes via their homophilic interactions. Cadherins associate with cytoplasmic proteins, called catenins, which in turn bind to cytoskeletal components, such as actin filaments and microtubules. These molecular complexes further interact with other proteins, including signaling molecules, rendering the AJs into highly dynamic and regulatable structures. The AJs of such nature contribute to the physical linking of cells, as well as to the regulation of cell-cell contacts, which is essential for morphogenesis and remodeling of tissues and organs. Thus, elucidating the molecular architecture of the AJs and their regulatory mechanisms are crucial for understanding how the multicellular system is organized.

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