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Curr Top Dev Biol. 2015;112:103-27. doi: 10.1016/bs.ctdb.2014.11.017. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

Integration of cell-cell adhesion and contractile actomyosin activity during morphogenesis.

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MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


During embryonic development, cells become organized into complex tissues. Cells need to adhere and communicate with their immediate and remote neighbors to allow morphogenesis to take place in a coordinated way. Cell-cell adhesion, mediated by transmembrane adhesion receptors such as Cadherins and their intracellular interaction partners, is intimately linked to cell contractility that drives cell shape changes. Research in recent years has revealed that the contractile machinery responsible for cell shape changes, actomyosin, can in fact be organized into a number of different functional assemblies such as cortical-junctional actomyosin, apical-medial actomyosin, supracellular actomyosin cables as well as basal actomyosin networks. During coordinated shape changes of a tissue, these assemblies have to be functionally and mechanically linked between cells through cell-cell junctions. Although many actin-binding proteins associated with adherens junctions have been identified, which specific factors are required for the linkage of particular actomyosin assemblies to junctions is not well understood. This review will summarize our current knowledge, based mainly on the in vivo study of morphogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.


Actomyosin; Adherens junctions; Cadherin; Cell adhesion; Contractility; Epithelial cell; Flows; Morphogenesis; Pulses; Tension

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