Adhesive and signaling functions of cadherins and catenins in vertebrate development.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, Volume 1, Issue 5, p.a002949 (2009)


2009, Actins, ADHERENS JUNCTIONS, Animals, Brain, Cadherins, Catenins, Cell Adhesion, Cell Proliferation, Center-Authored Paper, Central Nervous System, Comparative Medicine Core Facility, Cytokine Analysis Core Facility, Developmental Biology, Flow Cytometry Core Facility, Gene Expression Regulation, Human Biology Division, Models, Biological, Neural Crest, Scientific Imaging Core Facility, Shared Resources, Signal Transduction


Properly regulated intercellular adhesion is critical for normal development of all metazoan organisms. Adherens junctions play an especially prominent role in development because they link the adhesive function of cadherin-catenin protein complexes to the dynamic forces of the actin cytoskeleton, which helps to orchestrate a spatially confined and very dynamic assembly of intercellular connections. Intriguingly, in addition to maintaining intercellular adhesion, cadherin-catenin proteins are linked to several major developmental signaling pathways crucial for normal morphogenesis. In this article we will highlight the key genetic studies that uncovered the role of cadherin-catenin proteins in vertebrate development and discuss the potential role of these proteins as molecular biosensors of external cellular microenvironment that may spatially confine signaling molecules and polarity cues to orchestrate cellular behavior throughout the complex process of normal morphogenesis.