The Three-Dimensional Structure of the Cadherin–Catenin Complex

  • Noboru Ishiyama
  • Mitsuhiko Ikura
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 60)


The cadherin–catenin complex is the major building block of the adherens junction. It is responsible for coupling Ca2+-dependent intercellular junctions with various intracellular events, including actin dynamics and signaling pathways. Determination of three-dimensional structures of cadherins, p120 catenin, β-catenin and α-catenin at atomic-level resolution has allowed us to examine how the structure and function of cell adhesion molecules are further modulated by protein–protein interactions. Structural studies of cadherins revealed the strand-swap-dependent and -independent trans-dimerization mechanisms, as well as a potential mechanism for lateral clustering of cadherin trans-dimers. Crystallographic and NMR analyses of p120 catenin revealed that it regulates the stability of cadherin-mediated cell–cell adhesion by associating with the majority of the E-cadherin juxtamembrane domain, including residues implicated in clathrin-mediated endocytosis and Hakai-dependent ubiquitination. Crystal structures of the β-catenin/E-cadherin complex and the β-/α-catenin chimera revealed extensive interactions necessary to form the cadherin/β-catenin/α-catenin ternary complex. Structural characterization of α-catenin has revealed conformational changes within the N-terminal and modulatory domains that are crucial for its role as a mechanosensor of cell–cell adhesion. Further insights into the connection between the cadherin–catenin complex and the actin cytoskeleton are integral to better understand how adjoining cells communicate through cell–cell adhesion.


Actin Filament Intercellular Junction Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer Classical Cadherins Catenin Complex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ontario Cancer InstituteTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Medical BiophysicsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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