α-catenin, vinculin, and F-actin in strengthening E-cadherin cell-cell adhesions and mechanosensing
Kocgozlu L, Saw TB, Le AP, Yow I, Shagirov M, Wong E, Mège RM, Lim CT, Toyama Y, Ladoux B
2013 Jul 1
Classical cadherins play a crucial role in establishing intercellular adhesion, regulating cortical tension, and maintaining mechanical coupling between cells. The mechanosensitive regulation of intercellular adhesion strengthening depends on the recruitment of adhesion complexes at adhesion sites and their anchoring to the actin cytoskeleton. Thus, the molecular mechanisms coupling cadherin-associated complexes to the actin cytoskeleton are actively being studied, with a particular focus on α-catenin and vinculin. We have recently addressed the role of these proteins by analyzing the consequences of their depletion and the expression of α-catenin mutants in the formation and strengthening of cadherin-mediated adhesions. We have used the dual pipette assay to measure the forces required to separate cell doublets formed in suspension. In this commentary, we briefly summarize the current knowledge on the role of α-catenin and vinculin in cadherin-actin cytoskeletal interactions. These data shed light on the tension-dependent contribution of α-catenin and vinculin in a mechanoresponsive complex that promotes the connection between cadherin and the actin cytoskeleton and their requirement in the development of adhesion strengthening.