There are many morphologically distinct membrane structures with different functions at the surface of epithelial cells. Among these, adherens junctions (AJ) and tight junctions (TJ) are responsible for the mechanical linkage of epithelial cells and epithelial barrier function, respectively. In the process of new cell–cell adhesion formation between two epithelial cells, such as after wounding, AJ form first and then TJ form on the apical side of AJ. This process is very complicated because AJ formation triggers drastic changes in the organization of actin cytoskeleton, the activity of Rho family of small GTPases, and the lipid composition of the plasma membrane, all of which are required for subsequent TJ formation. In this review, the authors focus on the relationship between AJ and TJ as a representative example of specialization of plasma membrane regions and introduce recent findings on how AJ formation promotes the subsequent formation of TJ.
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