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J Cell Sci. 2007 Jan 1;120(Pt 1):86-100. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

Rac-WAVE-mediated actin reorganization is required for organization and maintenance of cell-cell adhesion.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan.


During cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesion, the actin cytoskeleton undergoes dynamic reorganization in epithelial cells. Rho-family small GTPases, which regulate actin dynamics, play pivotal roles in cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesion; however, the precise molecular mechanisms that underlie cell-cell adhesion formation remain unclear. Here we show that Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein family verprolin-homologous protein (WAVE)-mediated reorganization of actin, downstream of Rac plays an important role in normal development of cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesions in MDCK cells. Rac-induced development of cadherin-dependent adhesions required WAVE2-dependent actin reorganization. The process of cell-cell adhesion is divided into three steps: formation of new cell-cell contacts, stabilization of these new contacts and junction maturation. WAVE1 and WAVE2 were expressed in MDCK cells. The functions of WAVE1 and WAVE2 were redundant in this system but WAVE2 appeared to play a more significant role. During the first step, WAVE2-dependent lamellipodial protrusions facilitated formation of cell-cell contacts. During the second step, WAVE2 recruited actin filaments to new cell-cell contacts and stabilized newly formed cadherin clusters. During the third step, WAVE2-dependent actin reorganization was required for organization and maintenance of mature cell-cell adhesions. Thus, Rac-WAVE-dependent actin reorganization is not only involved in formation of cell-cell adhesions but is also required for their maintenance.

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