The adherens junction (AJ) is a cadherin-based and actin filament associated cell-to-cell junction. AJs can contribute to tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis and their association with actin filaments is crucial for the functions. There are three types of AJs in terms of the mode of actin filament/AJ association. Among many actin-binding proteins associated with AJs, α-catenin is one of the most important actin filament/AJ linkers that functions in all types of AJs. Although α-catenin in cadherin-catenin complex appears to bind to actin filaments within cells, it fails to bind to actin filaments in vitro mysteriously. Recent report revealed that α-catenin in the complex can bind to actin filaments in vitro when forces are applied to the filament. In addition to force-sensitive vinculin binding, α-catenin has another force-sensitive property of actin filament-binding. Elucidation of its significance and the molecular mechanism is indispensable for understanding AJ formation and maintenance during tissue morphogenesis, function and repair.
The Journal of Medical Investigation
Faculty of Medicine Tokushima University
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