Adhesions are a central mechanism by which cells mechanically interact with the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM) and neighboring cells. In both cell-ECM and cell-cell adhesions, forces generated within the actin cytoskeleton are transmitted to the surrounding environment and are essential for numerous morphogenic processes. Despite differences in many molecular components that regulate cell-cell and cell-ECM adhesions, the roles of F-actin dynamics and mechanical forces in adhesion regulation are surprisingly similar. Moreover, force transmission at adhesions occurs concomitantly with dynamic F-actin; proteins comprising the adhesion of F-actin to the plasma membrane must accommodate this movement while still facilitating force transmission. Thus, despite different molecular architectures, integrin and cadherin-mediated adhesions operate with common biophysical characteristics to transmit and respond to mechanical forces in multicellular tissue.
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