Epithelial monolayers are major determinants of three-dimensional tissue organization and provide the structural foundation for the body plan and all of its component organs. Epithelial cells are connected by junctional complexes containing the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. Adherens junctions mediate stable cohesion between cells but must be actively reorganized to allow tissue remodeling during development. Recent studies demonstrate that junctional proteins are dynamically turned over at the cell surface, even in cells that do not appear to be moving. The redistribution of E-cadherin through spatially regulated endocytosis and exocytosis contributes to cell adhesion, cell polarity, and cell rearrangement. Here we describe recent progress in understanding the roles of the vesicle transport machinery in regulating cell adhesion and junctional dynamics during epithelial morphogenesis in vivo. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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