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      Direct Cell–Cell Interactions in the Endometrium and in Endometrial Pathophysiology

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          Cell contacts exhibit a considerable influence on tissue physiology and homeostasis by controlling paracellular and intercellular transport processes, as well as by affecting signaling pathways. Since they maintain cell polarity, they play an important role in cell plasticity. The knowledge about the junctional protein families and their interactions has increased considerably during recent years. In contrast to most other tissues, the endometrium undergoes extensive physiological changes and reveals an extraordinary plasticity due to its crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. These complex changes are accompanied by changes in direct cell–cell contacts to meet the various requirements in the respective developmental stage. Impairment of this sophisticated differentiation process may lead to failure of implantation and embryo development and may be involved in the pathogenesis of endometrial diseases. In this article, we focus on the knowledge about the distribution and regulation of the different junctional proteins in the endometrium during cycling and pregnancy, as well as in pathologic conditions such as endometriosis and cancer. Decoding these sophisticated interactions should improve our understanding of endometrial physiology as well as of the mechanisms involved in pathological conditions.

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          Convergence of Wnt, beta-catenin, and cadherin pathways.

          The specification and proper arrangements of new cell types during tissue differentiation require the coordinated regulation of gene expression and precise interactions between neighboring cells. Of the many growth factors involved in these events, Wnts are particularly interesting regulators, because a key component of their signaling pathway, beta-catenin, also functions as a component of the cadherin complex, which controls cell-cell adhesion and influences cell migration. Here, we assemble evidence of possible interrelations between Wnt and other growth factor signaling, beta-catenin functions, and cadherin-mediated adhesion.
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            Multifunctional strands in tight junctions.

            Tight junctions are one mode of cell-cell adhesion in epithelial and endothelial cellular sheets. They act as a primary barrier to the diffusion of solutes through the intercellular space, create a boundary between the apical and the basolateral plasma membrane domains, and recruit various cytoskeletal as well as signalling molecules at their cytoplasmic surface. New insights into the molecular architecture of tight junctions allow us to now discuss the structure and functions of this unique cell-cell adhesion apparatus in molecular terms.
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              Preterm labor: one syndrome, many causes.

              Preterm birth is associated with 5 to 18% of pregnancies and is a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Spontaneous preterm labor, a syndrome caused by multiple pathologic processes, leads to 70% of preterm births. The prevention and the treatment of preterm labor have been long-standing challenges. We summarize the current understanding of the mechanisms of disease implicated in this condition and review advances relevant to intra-amniotic infection, decidual senescence, and breakdown of maternal-fetal tolerance. The success of progestogen treatment to prevent preterm birth in a subset of patients at risk is a cause for optimism. Solving the mystery of preterm labor, which compromises the health of future generations, is a formidable scientific challenge worthy of investment. Copyright © 2014, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                30 July 2018
                August 2018
                : 19
                : 8
                Institute of Anatomy, University Hospital, University Duisburg-Essen, 45147 Essen, Germany; susanne.grund@
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: ruth.gruemmer@ ; Tel.: +49-201-723-4290
                © 2018 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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