Beyond the epithelium: cadherin function in fibrous connective tissues

FEBS Lett. 2007 Jan 23;581(2):167-74. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2006.12.029. Epub 2007 Jan 3.


In fibrous connective tissues, fibroblasts are organized into syncytia, cellular networks that enable matrix remodeling and that are interconnected by intercellular adherens junctions (AJs). The AJs of fibroblasts are mediated by N-cadherin, a broadly expressed classical cadherin that is critically involved in developmental processes, wound healing and several diseases of mesenchymal tissues. In contrast to E-cadherin-dependent junctions of epithelia, the formation of AJs in fibrous connective tissues is relatively uncharacterized. Work over the last several years has documented an expanding list of molecules which function to regulate N-cadherin mediated junctions such as: Fer, PTP1B, cortactin, calcium, gelsolin, PIP5KIgamma, PIP2, and the Rho family of GTPases. We present an overview on the regulation of N-cadherin-mediated junction formation that highlights recent molecular advances in the field and rationalizes the roles of N-cadherin in connective tissue function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cadherins / analysis
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Connective Tissue Cells / physiology*
  • Connective Tissue Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Epithelium / physiology
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Fibroblasts / chemistry
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Fibroblasts / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Cadherins
  • Proteins