β-Catenin protects the epidermis from mechanical stresses
Many tissues in our body experience mechanical stresses caused by both internal and external forces. The skin, for example, must tolerate diverse mechanical insults. In this paper, we report a role for β-catenin in providing stability to epithelia under stress. Loss of β-catenin during epidermal development caused perinatal lethality. Mutant embryos up-regulated stress responses at sites of active morphogenesis, which became more widespread after the stresses associated with birth. In addition, selective loss of tight junctions occurred in focal regions. This was recapitulated in cultured β-catenin-null cells exposed to externally applied forces. In addition, mutant cells were defective in tensioninduced engagement of adherens junctions. We found that β-catenin was required to recruit vinculin to the cell cortex and to strengthen the junction's association with the underlying cytoskeleton in response to tension. These data demonstrate that a complete understanding of the functions of cell adhesion proteins must take into account their roles in response to mechanical stresses. © 2013 Ray et al.
Ray, S; Foote, HP; Lechler, T
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