Remodeling of the adherens junctions during morphogenesis

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2009;89:33-54. doi: 10.1016/S0070-2153(09)89002-9.


Morphogenesis of epithelial tissues involves various forms of reshaping of cell layers, such as invagination or bending, convergent extension, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. At the cellular level, these processes include changes in the shape, position, and assembly pattern of cells. During such morphogenetic processes, epithelial sheets in general maintain their multicellular architecture, implying that they must engage the mechanisms to change the spatial relationship with their neighbors without disrupting the junctions. A major junctional structure in epithelial tissues is the "adherens junction," which is composed of cadherin adhesion receptors and associated proteins including F-actin. The adherens junctions are required for the firm associations between cells, as disruption of them causes disorganization of the epithelial architecture. The adherens junctions, however, appear to be a dynamic entity, allowing the rearrangement of cells within cell sheets. This dynamic nature of the adherens junctions seems to be supported by various mechanisms, such as the interactions of cadherins with actin cytoskeleton, endocytosis and recycling of cadherins, and the cooperation of cadherins with other adhesion receptors. In this chapter, we provide an overview of these mechanisms analyzed in vitro and in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / enzymology
  • Adherens Junctions / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Humans
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis*
  • Nectins


  • Cadherins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Nectins
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins