Cadherins are the primary adhesion molecules in adherens junctions and desmosomes and play essential roles in embryonic development. Although significant progress has been made in understanding cadherin structure and function, we lack a clear vision of how cells confer plasticity upon adhesive junctions to allow for cellular rearrangements during development, wound healing and metastasis. Endocytic membrane trafficking has emerged as a fundamental mechanism by which cells confer a dynamic state to adhesive junctions. Recent studies indicate that the juxtamembrane domain of classical cadherins contains multiple endocytic motifs, or “switches,” that can be used by cellular membrane trafficking machinery to regulate adhesion. The cadherin-binding protein p120-catenin (p120) appears to be the master regulator of access to these switches, thereby controlling cadherin endocytosis and turnover. This review focuses on p120 and other cadherin-binding proteins, ubiquitin ligases, and growth factors as key modulators of cadherin membrane trafficking.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology