2018 年 13 巻 4 号 p. 17-00699
Cells in our body utilize a variety of adaptor proteins for transmitting context specific signals that arise from the cellular microenvironment. Adaptor proteins lack enzymatic activity and typically perform their function by acting as scaffolds that bind other signaling proteins. While most adaptor proteins are functionally modulated by biochemical alterations such as phosphorylation, a subset of adaptor proteins are functionally modulated by a mechanical alteration in their structure that makes cryptic sites available for binding to downstream signaling proteins. α-catenin is one such adaptor protein that localizes to cadherin-based cell adhesions by binding the membrane-localized cadherin-β-catenin complex at one side and the cytosolic F-actin on the other side. An increase in actomyosin tension is directly relayed to α-catenin resulting in a change in its conformation making cryptic binding sites accessible to its interacting partners. Here, I describe an updated view of the mechanical regulation of α-catenin in the context of cellular adhesion, including the role of cadherin clustering in its activation.