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Tissue cells in epithelial or endothelial monolayers are connected through cell-cell junctions, which are stabilized by transmembrane E-cadherin bonds and intracellular actin filaments. These bonds and junctions play a crucial role in maintaining the barrier function of epithelia and endothelia and are believed to transmit forces between cells. Additionally, E-cadherin bonds can impact the shape of cell-cell junctions. In this study, we develop a continuum mechanical model of the cell-cell junction by explicitly incorporating the cell membrane, distributions of E-cadherin bonds, cytoplasmic fluid pressure, and F-actin dynamics. The static force-balanced version of the model is able to analyze the influences of cell cortical tension, actin dynamics, and cytoplasmic pressure on the junction shape and E-cadherin bonds. Furthermore, an extended model that incorporates fluid flow, across the cell boundary as well as around the cell, is also examined. This model can couple cell-shape changes with cell cortical tension and fluid flow, and predicts the additional effect of fluid motion on cell-cell junction mechanics. Taken together, our models serve as an intermediate link between molecular-scale models of cell-junction molecules and cell-scale models of tissue and epithelia. Copyright © 2023 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Yufei Wu, Sean X Sun. Mechanics of cell-cell junctions. Biophysical journal. 2023 Aug 22;122(16):3354-3368

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PMID: 37475215

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