Adherens junction: the ensemble of specialized cadherin clusters

Sergey M. Troyanovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The cell–cell connections in adherens junctions (AJs) are mediated by transmembrane receptors, type I cadherins (referred to here as cadherins). These cadherin-based connections (or trans bonds) are weak. To upregulate their strength, cadherins exploit avidity, the increased affinity of binding between cadherin clusters compared with isolated monomers. Formation of such clusters is a unique molecular process that is driven by a synergy of direct and indirect cis interactions between cadherins located at the same cell. In addition to their role in adhesion, cadherin clusters provide structural scaffolds for cytosolic proteins, which implicate cadherin into different cellular activities and signaling pathways. The cluster lifetime, which depends on the actin cytoskeleton, and on the mechanical forces it generates, determines the strength of AJs and their plasticity. The key aspects of cadherin adhesion, therefore, cannot be understood at the level of isolated cadherin molecules, but should be discussed in the context of cadherin clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-387
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • actin
  • cadherin
  • cadherin clusters
  • catenins
  • cell–cell adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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