Investigating the interplay between Actin Polymerization and Cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion in mammalian epithelial cells
E-Cadherin-mediated Adherens Junctions (AJs) in epithelial cells are anchoring junctions that help connect cells in a tissue by bridging the cytoskeleton of neighboring cells. Binding to the cytoskeleton allows these junctions to function as force-sensors and participate in morphogenesis, migration, tissue repair and regeneration. The formin family of actin nucleators (that is, proteins that build the actin cytoskeleton) is implicated in generating several cellular actin structures; however, their role at AJs remains poorly characterized. Using mammalian epithelial cells in culture, we attempt to dissect the role of actin polymerization mediated by formins in regulating E-Cadherin clustering and dynamics at AJs. Furthermore, we are also interested in understanding the interplay between different classes of nucleators (such as formins and the Arp2/3 complex) and their contributions to actin polymerization at apical and lateral junctions.