Endothelial adherens junctions are critical for physiological and pathological processes such as differentiation, maintenance of entire monolayer integrity, and the remodeling. The endothelial-specific VE-cadherin/catenin complex provides the backbone of adherens junctions and acts in close interaction with actin filaments and actin/myosin-mediated contractility to fulfill the junction demands. The functional connection between the cadherin/catenin complex and actin filaments might be either directly through ?-catenins, or indirectly e.g., via linker proteins such as vinculin, p120ctn, ?-actinin, or EPLIN. However, both junction integrity and dynamic remodeling have to be contemporarily coordinated. The actin-related protein complex ARP2/3 and its activating molecules, such as N-WASP and WAVE, have been shown to regulate the lammellipodia-mediated formation of cell junctions in both epithelium and endothelium. Recent reports now demonstrate a novel aspect of the ARP2/3 complex and the nucleating-promoting factors in the maintenance of endothelial barrier function and junction remodeling of established endothelial cell junctions. Those mechanisms open novel possibilities; not only in fulfilling physiological demands but obtained information may be of critical importance in pathologies such as wound healing, angiogenesis, inflammation, and cell diapedesis.
Keywords: ARP2/3 complex; VE-cadherin; actin; cortical actin; endothelium; stress fibers.