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Dev Cell. 2006 Nov;11(5):601-12.

Catenins: keeping cells from getting their signals crossed.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Adherens junctions have been traditionally viewed as building blocks of tissue architecture. The foundations for this view began to change with the discovery that a central component of AJs, beta-catenin, can also function as a transcriptional cofactor in Wnt signaling. In recent years, conventional views have similarly been shaken about the other two major AJ catenins, alpha-catenin and p120-catenin. Catenins have emerged as molecular sensors that integrate cell-cell junctions and cytoskeletal dynamics with signaling pathways that govern morphogenesis, tissue homeostasis, and even intercellular communication between different cell types within a tissue. These findings reveal novel aspects of AJ function in normal tissues and offer insights into how changes in AJs and their associated proteins and cytoskeletal dynamics impact wound-repair and cancer.

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