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Subcell Biochem. 2012;60:197-222. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4186-7_9.

Adherens junction turnover: regulating adhesion through cadherin endocytosis, degradation, and recycling.

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Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, 30332, Atlanta, GA, USA,


Adherens junctions are important mediators of intercellular adhesion, but they are not static structures. They are regularly formed, broken, and rearranged in a variety of situations, requiring changes in the amount of cadherins, the main adhesion molecule in adherens junctions, present at the cell surface. Thus, endocytosis, degradation, and recycling of cadherins are crucial for dynamic regulation of adherens junctions and control of intercellular adhesion. In this chapter, we review the involvement of cadherin endocytosis in development and disease. We discuss the various endocytic pathways available to cadherins, the adaptors involved, and the sorting of internalized cadherin for recycling or lysosomal degradation. In addition, we review the regulatory pathways controlling cadherin endocytosis and degradation, including regulation of cadherin endocytosis by catenins, cadherin ubiquitination, and growth factor receptor signaling pathways. Lastly, we discuss the proteolytic cleavage of cadherins at the plasma membrane.

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