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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22458. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022458. Epub 2011 Jul 22.

Multicomponent analysis of junctional movements regulated by myosin II isoforms at the epithelial zonula adherens.

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Division of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


The zonula adherens (ZA) of epithelial cells is a site of cell-cell adhesion where cellular forces are exerted and resisted. Increasing evidence indicates that E-cadherin adhesion molecules at the ZA serve to sense force applied on the junctions and coordinate cytoskeletal responses to those forces. Efforts to understand the role that cadherins play in mechanotransduction have been limited by the lack of assays to measure the impact of forces on the ZA. In this study we used 4D imaging of GFP-tagged E-cadherin to analyse the movement of the ZA. Junctions in confluent epithelial monolayers displayed prominent movements oriented orthogonal (perpendicular) to the ZA itself. Two components were identified in these movements: a relatively slow unidirectional (translational) component that could be readily fitted by least-squares regression analysis, upon which were superimposed more rapid oscillatory movements. Myosin IIB was a dominant factor responsible for driving the unilateral translational movements. In contrast, frequency spectrum analysis revealed that depletion of Myosin IIA increased the power of the oscillatory movements. This implies that Myosin IIA may serve to dampen oscillatory movements of the ZA. This extends our recent analysis of Myosin II at the ZA to demonstrate that Myosin IIA and Myosin IIB make distinct contributions to junctional movement at the ZA.

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