ZO-1 recruitment to α-catenin -a novel mechanism for coupling the assembly of tight junctions to adherens junctions

Jessica Maiers, Xiao Peng, Alan S. Fanning, Kris A. DeMali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations


The formation of a barrier between epithelial cells is a fundamental determinant of cellular homeostasis, protecting underlying cells against pathogens, dehydration and damage. Assembly of the tight junction barrier is dependent upon neighboring epithelial cells binding to one another and forming adherens junctions, but the mechanism for how these processes are linked is poorly understood. Using a knockdown and substitution system, we studied whether ZO-1 binding to α-catenin is required for coupling tight junction assembly to the formation of adherens junctions. We found that preventing ZO-1 binding to α-catenin did not appear to affect adherens junctions. Rather the assembly and maintenance of the epithelial barrier were disrupted. This disruption was accompanied by alterations in the mobility of ZO-1 and the organization of the actin cytoskeleton. Thus, our study identifies a-catenin binding to ZO-1 as a new mechanism for coupling the assembly of the epithelial barrier to cell-to-cell adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3904-3915
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 5 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • α-Catenin
  • Adherens junction
  • Tight junction
  • ZO-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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