Cell-cell junctions link cells to each other in tissues, and regulate tissue homeostasis in critical cell processes that include tissue barrier function, cell proliferation, and migration. Defects in cell-cell junctions give rise to a wide range of tissue abnormalities that disrupt homeostasis and are common in genetic abnormalities and cancers. Here, we discuss the organization and function of cell-cell junctions primarily involved in adhesion (tight junction, adherens junction, and desmosomes) in two different epithelial tissues: a simple epithelium (intestine) and a stratified epithelium (epidermis). Studies in these tissues reveal similarities and differences in the organization and functions of different cell-cell junctions that meet the requirements for the specialized functions of each tissue. We discuss cell-cell junction responses to genetic and environmental perturbations that provide further insights into their roles in maintaining tissue homeostasis.
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