Cell-Cell Junctions Organize Structural and Signaling Networks

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2018 Apr 2;10(4):a029181. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029181.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Desmosomes / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tight Junctions / physiology
  • Wound Healing