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Biol Cell. 2017 Apr;109(4):139-161. doi: 10.1111/boc.201600075. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

The role of apical cell-cell junctions and associated cytoskeleton in mechanotransduction.

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Department of Cell Biology, Institute of Genomics and Genetics of Geneva (iGE3), University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


Tissues of multicellular organisms are characterised by several types of specialised cell-cell junctions. In vertebrate epithelia and endothelia, tight and adherens junctions (AJ) play critical roles in barrier and adhesion functions, and are connected to the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons. The interaction between junctions and the cytoskeleton is crucial for tissue development and physiology, and is involved in the molecular mechanisms governing cell shape, motility, growth and signalling. The machineries which functionally connect tight and AJ to the cytoskeleton comprise proteins which either bind directly to cytoskeletal filaments, or function as adaptors for regulators of the assembly and function of the cytoskeleton. In the last two decades, specific cytoskeleton-associated junctional molecules have been implicated in mechanotransduction, revealing the existence of multimolecular complexes that can sense mechanical cues and translate them into adaptation to tensile forces and biochemical signals. Here, we summarise the current knowledge about the machineries that link tight and AJ to actin filaments and microtubules, and the molecular basis for mechanotransduction at epithelial and endothelial AJ.


Actin; Adhesion; Cytoskeleton; Junctions; Microtubule

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