Cadherins are transmembrane proteins that contain calcium-binding domains, termed 'cadherin repeats' in their extracellular regions. As the major constituents of adherens junctions, cadherins of adjacent cells mediate intercellular adhesion by interacting with each other, and by associating with specialized protein complexes linked to the actin cytoskeleton through their intracellular regions.

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News and Comment

  • News & Views |

    Loss of VEGF-C or VEGFR3 function or gain of VE-cadherin function causes identical defects in sinusoidal and lymphatic growth, resulting in anemia and lymphedema. Mechanistically, VEGF-C drives VE-cadherin phosphorylation and endocytosis whereas VE-cadherin prevents VEGFR3 internalization and downstream growth factor signaling. In the absence of VEGFR3, reducing VE-cadherin levels rescues vascular growth by potentiating VEGF-C–VEGFR2 signaling.

  • News & Views |

    Epithelial cells form energetically costly cell–cell adhesions in response to mechanical forces. How cells obtain their energy during this event is unclear. Activity of a key regulator of cell metabolism, the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), is now shown to be mechanoresponsive, and thus can bridge adhesion mechanotransduction and energy homeostasis.

    • Tadamoto Isogai
    • , Jin Suk Park
    •  & Gaudenz Danuser
    Nature Cell Biology 19, 591-593
  • News & Views |

    Tumours are highly complex and contain multiple cell types. Cancer-associated fibroblasts are now shown to have a critical role in directly leading cancer cell invasion. This intercellular interaction relies on a mechanically active cadherin-based junction, and CAF-led invasion is demonstrated to require E-cadherin in the cancer cell.

    • Andrew J. Ewald
    Nature Cell Biology 19, 147-149
  • News & Views |

    Cadherin adhesion complexes have recently emerged as sensors of tissue tension that regulate key developmental processes. Super-resolution microscopy experiments now unravel the spatial organization of the interface between cadherins and the actin cytoskeleton and reveal how vinculin, a central component in cadherin mechanotransduction, is regulated by mechanical and biochemical signals.

    • Mitchell K. L. Han
    •  & Johan de Rooij
  • News & Views |

    Many cell types in our body move in a collective manner, which requires individual cells to align their movements relative to that of their neighbours. A mechanism is now described in which cadherin-rich protrusions are extended from leading migrating cells and engulfed by follower cells to guide collective migration.

    • Tamal Das
    •  & Joachim P. Spatz
    Nature Cell Biology 18, 1265-1267