Living reference work entry
Adherens junctions are specialized cell–cell attachments composed of transmembrane proteins and cytoplasmic proteins that anchor to the actin cytoskeleton (Fig. 1). Anchoring proteins are clustered with several actin-binding proteins in the cytoplasm adjacent to the junctional membranes. Adherens junctions form punctate or streak-like attachments in nonepithelial tissues, whereas they encircle the apical portion of adjacent epithelial cells below tight junctions. Adherens junctions have prototypic roles in stabilizing the epithelium, establishing apical–basal polarity of epithelial cells, and facilitating cell–cell communication that regulates cell proliferation and movement. Since most human cancers are of epithelial origin, disruption of adherens junctions is one of the hallmarks of cancer cells exhibiting malignant transformation.
KeywordsTight Junction Hepatocyte Growth Factor Actin Cytoskeleton Adherens Junction Classical Cadherins
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