Desmosome dynamics in migrating epithelial cells requires the actin cytoskeleton

Brett J. Roberts, Anjeza Pashaj, Keith R. Johnson, James K. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Re-modeling of epithelial tissues requires that the cells in the tissue rearrange their adhesive contacts in order to allow cells to migrate relative to neighboring cells. Desmosomes are prominent adhesive structures found in a variety of epithelial tissues that are believed to inhibit cell migration and invasion. Mechanisms regulating desmosome assembly and stability in migrating cells are largely unknown. In this study we established a cell culture model to examine the fate of desmosomal components during scratch wound migration. Desmosomes are rapidly assembled between epithelial cells at the lateral edges of migrating cells and structures are transported in a retrograde fashion while the structures become larger and mature. Desmosome assembly and dynamics in this system are dependent on the actin cytoskeleton prior to being associated with the keratin intermediate filament cytoskeleton. These studies extend our understanding of desmosome assembly and provide a system to examine desmosome assembly and dynamics during epithelial cell migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2814-2822
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Dec 10 2011


  • Actin
  • Desmocollin
  • Desmosome
  • Live cell microscopy
  • Motility
  • Plakophilin-3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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