Epithelia form physical barriers that separate the internal milieu of the body from its external environment. The biogenesis of functional epithelia requires the precise coordination of many cellular processes. One of the key events in epithelial biogenesis is the establishment of cadherin-dependent cell-cell contacts, which initiate morphological changes and the formation of other adhesive structures. Cadherin-mediated adhesions generate intracellular signals that control cytoskeletal reorganization, polarity, and vesicle trafficking. Among such signaling pathways, those involving small GTPases play critical roles in epithelial biogenesis. Assembly of E-cadherin activates several small GTPases and, in turn, the activated small GTPases control the effects of E-cadherin-mediated adhesions on epithelial biogenesis. Here, we focus on small GTPase signaling at E-cadherin-mediated epithelial junctions.
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