N-cadherin as a key regulator of collective cell migration in a 3D environment

Wenting Shih, Soichiro Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Cell migration is a critical step of normal developmental processes and disease progression. Often, migrating cells interact and maintain contact with neighboring cells. However, the precise roles of cell-cell adhesion in cell migration have thus far been poorly defined. Often in aggressive cancers, N-cadherin is prominently upregulated, yet, these highly motile cells have limited cell-cell adhesion when plated on a stiff 2D substrate. But, the same cells in a 3D matrix migrate as a multicellular cluster. This new observation suggests that N-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion supports cell interactions between migrating cells in a more physiologically relevant 3D matrix, but not on a 2D substrate. While N-cadherin is an integral part of neural synapses, the ectopic expression of N-cadherin in transformed epithelial cells plays an equally important part in initiating pro-migratory signaling, and providing strong yet flexible cell cohesion essential for persistent cell migration in a 3D matrix. The 3D cell migration analysis for studying cell-to-cell interactions exposes the roles of N-cadherin in multicellular migration, and reveals novel insights into cell migration-dependent normal and pathological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-517
Number of pages5
JournalCell Adhesion and Migration
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • 3D matrix
  • Cell migration
  • Cell-cell adhesion
  • Epithelial-to- mesenchymal transition
  • N-cadherin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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