The α-Catenin mechanosensing M region is required for cell adhesion during tissue morphogenesis

J Cell Biol. 2023 Feb 6;222(2):e202108091. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202108091. Epub 2022 Dec 15.


α-Catenin couples the cadherin-catenin complex to the actin cytoskeleton. The mechanosensitive α-Catenin M region undergoes conformational changes upon application of force to recruit interaction partners. Here, we took advantage of the tension landscape in the Drosophila embryo to define three different states of α-Catenin mechanosensing in support of cell adhesion. Low-, medium-, and high-tension contacts showed a corresponding recruitment of Vinculin and Ajuba, which was dependent on the α-Catenin M region. In contrast, the Afadin homolog Canoe acts in parallel to α-Catenin at bicellular low- and medium-tension junctions but requires an interaction with α-Catenin for its tension-sensitive enrichment at high-tension tricellular junctions. Individual M region domains make complex contributions to cell adhesion through their impact on interaction partner recruitment, and redundancies with the function of Canoe. Our data argue that α-Catenin and its interaction partners are part of a cooperative and partially redundant mechanoresponsive network that supports AJs remodeling during morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Adherens Junctions / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins* / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins* / metabolism
  • Morphogenesis
  • Vinculin / genetics
  • Vinculin / metabolism
  • alpha Catenin* / genetics
  • alpha Catenin* / metabolism


  • Actins
  • alpha Catenin
  • Cadherins
  • Vinculin
  • jub protein, Drosophila
  • cno protein, Drosophila
  • Drosophila Proteins

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