Strong cell-cell adhesion is crucial for tissue organization during development. A complex of three proteins—cadherin, α-catenin, and β-catenin—play an important role in adhesion by organizing and regulating the actin cytoskeleton. A recent paper demonstrates how α-catenin functions within this complex and with actin in the developing worm embryo, and shows that this complex is regulated differently from the mechanism in mammals. Image is a C. elegans embryo with a mutant form of α-catenin (blue and green) and actin (yellow and magenta). Both are localized at cell junctions in normal embryos, but in this mutant there is reduced α-catenin and gaps of actin localization at cell-cell junctions.
Reference: Image is by Stephanie L. Maiden, and is the cover image cover for the August issue of PNAS, which can be found here. Accompanying paper is by Adam V. Kwiatkowski, Stephanie L. Maiden, Sabine Pokutta, Hee-Jung Choi, Jacqueline M. Benjamin, Allison M. Lynch, W. James Nelson, William I. Weis, and Jeff Hardin, and can be found here.