Protecting your tail: regulation of cadherin degradation by p120-catenin

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Oct;16(5):522-7. doi: 10.1016/


Work in various model systems has yielded conflicting views of how p120-catenin participates in adherens junction assembly and regulation. A series of recent studies indicate that a core function of p120-catenin in mammalian cells is to regulate cadherin turnover by modulating the entry of cadherins into degradative endocytic pathways. By this mechanism, cellular levels of p120-catenin perform a 'rheostat' or 'set point' function that controls steady-state cadherin levels. These studies parallel a growing interest in the regulation of cadherin levels at the cell surface by membrane trafficking pathways. Collectively, the findings suggest exciting new roles for p120-catenin at the interface between cadherins and membrane trafficking machinery, and imply novel mechanisms by which p120-catenin may regulate cell adhesion and migration in the context of development and cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Transport Vesicles / metabolism


  • Cadherins
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Phosphoproteins
  • delta catenin