Adherens junction assembly and function in the Drosophila embryo

Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2012;293:45-83. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-394304-0.00007-5.


Adherens junctions are essential for the development and physiology of epithelial tissues. The Drosophila embryo is an excellent model for understanding adherens junction assembly, maintenance, and regulation during tissue development. Here, I review our current state of knowledge in this model system. The review begins by outlining the structure of the cadherin-catenin complex in Drosophila including core (DE-cadherin, Armadillo, α-catenin, and p120-catenin) and peripheral proteins. Then, it summarizes adherens junction assembly at cellularization and maturation at gastrulation. Finally, the regulation of adherens junctions during tissue morphogenesis is discussed. This discussion compares major morphogenetic events in the embryo (invagination of the ventral furrow, convergent extension of the germband, flattening of the amnioserosa, maintenance of tissue borders, epithelial branching, lumen formation, cell delamination, cell division, apoptosis, and dorsal closure) and common mechanisms involved (myosin activity, endocytosis, and mesenchymal-to-epithelial transitions).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / genetics
  • Adherens Junctions / metabolism*
  • Adherens Junctions / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins / genetics
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Armadillo Domain Proteins / physiology
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cadherins / physiology
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis / genetics
  • Morphogenesis / physiology
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Protein Multimerization / genetics
  • Protein Multimerization / physiology*
  • alpha Catenin / genetics
  • alpha Catenin / metabolism
  • alpha Catenin / physiology


  • Armadillo Domain Proteins
  • Cadherins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • alpha Catenin