Adherens junction (AJ) assembly under force is essential for many biological processes like epithelial monolayer bending, collective cell migration, cell extrusion and wound healing. The acto-myosin cytoskeleton acts as a major force-generator during the de novo formation and remodeling of AJ. Here, we investigated the role of non-muscle myosin II isoforms (NMIIA and NMIIB) in epithelial junction assembly. NMIIA and NMIIB differentially regulate biogenesis of AJ through association with distinct actin networks. Analysis of junction dynamics, actin organization, and mechanical forces of control and knockdown cells for myosins revealed that NMIIA provides the mechanical tugging force necessary for cell-cell junction reinforcement and maintenance. NMIIB is involved in E-cadherin clustering, maintenance of a branched actin layer connecting E-cadherin complexes and perijunctional actin fibres leading to the building-up of anisotropic stress. These data reveal unanticipated complementary functions of NMIIA and NMIIB in the biogenesis and integrity of AJ.
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