Tuning Collective Cell Migration by Cell-Cell Junction Regulation

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2017 Apr 3;9(4):a029199. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029199.


Collective cell migration critically depends on cell-cell interactions coupled to a dynamic actin cytoskeleton. Important cell-cell adhesion receptor systems implicated in controlling collective movements include cadherins, immunoglobulin superfamily members (L1CAM, NCAM, ALCAM), Ephrin/Eph receptors, Slit/Robo, connexins and integrins, and an adaptive array of intracellular adapter and signaling proteins. Depending on molecular composition and signaling context, cell-cell junctions adapt their shape and stability, and this gradual junction plasticity enables different types of collective cell movements such as epithelial sheet and cluster migration, branching morphogenesis and sprouting, collective network migration, as well as coordinated individual-cell migration and streaming. Thereby, plasticity of cell-cell junction composition and turnover defines the type of collective movements in epithelial, mesenchymal, neuronal, and immune cells, and defines migration coordination, anchorage, and cell dissociation. We here review cell-cell adhesion systems and their functions in different types of collective cell migration as key regulators of collective plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions*
  • Neoplasms / pathology