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Microscopic Visualization of Cell-Cell Adhesion Complexes at Micro and Nanoscale


Considerable progress has been made in our knowledge of the morphological and functional varieties of anchoring junctions. Cell-cell adhesion contacts consist of discrete junctional structures responsible for the mechanical coupling of cytoskeletons and allow the transmission of mechanical signals across the cell collective. The three main adhesion complexes are adherens junctions, tight junctions, and desmosomes. Microscopy has played a fundamental role in understanding these adhesion complexes on different levels in both physiological and pathological conditions. In this review, we discuss the main light and electron microscopy techniques used to unravel the structure and composition of the three cell-cell contacts in epithelial and endothelial cells. It functions as a guide to pick the appropriate imaging technique(s) for the adhesion complexes of interest. We also point out the latest techniques that have emerged. At the end, we discuss the problems investigators encounter during their cell-cell adhesion research using microscopic techniques.

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