Holding it together: when cadherin meets cadherin

Biophys J. 2021 Oct 5;120(19):4182-4192. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2021.03.025. Epub 2021 Mar 29.


Intercellular adhesion is the key to multicellularity, and its malfunction plays an important role in various developmental and disease-related processes. Although it has been intensively studied by both biologists and physicists, a commonly accepted definition of cell-cell adhesion is still being debated. Cell-cell adhesion has been described at the molecular scale as a function of adhesion receptors controlling binding affinity, at the cellular scale as resistance to detachment forces or modulation of surface tension, and at the tissue scale as a regulator of cellular rearrangements and morphogenesis. In this review, we aim to summarize and discuss recent advances in the molecular, cellular, and theoretical description of cell-cell adhesion, ranging from biomimetic models to the complexity of cells and tissues in an organismal context. In particular, we will focus on cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and the role of adhesion signaling and mechanosensation therein, two processes central for understanding the biological and physical basis of cell-cell adhesion.

Publication types

  • Review