Adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM) and to adjacent cells is a fundamental requirement for survival, differentiation, and migration of numerous cell types during both embryonic development and adult homeostasis. Different types of adhesion structures have been classified within different cell types or tissue environments. Much is now known regarding the complexity of protein composition of these critical points of cell contact with the extracellular environment. It has become clear that adhesions are highly ordered, dynamic structures under tight spatial control at the subcellular level to enable localized responses to extracellular cues. However, it is only in the last decade that the relative dynamics of these adhesion proteins have been closely studied. Here, we provide an overview of the recent data arising from such studies of cell-matrix and cell-cell contact and an overview of the imaging strategies that have been developed and implemented to study the intricacies and hierarchy of protein turnover within adhesions.
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