Adherens junctions: new insight into assembly, modulation and function

Bioessays. 2002 Aug;24(8):690-5. doi: 10.1002/bies.10129.


Adherens junctions play pivotal roles in cell and tissue organization and patterning by mediating cell adhesion and cell signaling. These junctions consist of large multiprotein complexes that join the actin cytoskeleton to the plasma membrane to form adhesive contacts between cells or between cells and extracellular matrix. The best-known adherens junction is the zonula adherens (ZA) that forms a belt surrounding the apical pole of epithelial cells. Recent studies in Drosophila have further illuminated the structure of adherens junctions. Scaffolding proteins encoded by the stardust gene are novel components of the Crumbs complex, which plays a critical role in ZA assembly.1-3 The small GTPase Rap1 controls the symmetric re-assembly of the ZA after cell division.4 Finally, the asymmetric distribution of adherens junction material regulates spindle orientation during asymmetric cell division in the sensory organ lineage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / chemistry*
  • Adherens Junctions / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Lineage
  • Drosophila
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction
  • rap1 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • rap1 GTP-Binding Proteins