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J Biol Chem. 2004 Aug 20;279(34):35127-32. Epub 2004 May 27.

Rap1 regulates E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Chemistry and the Centre for Biomedical Genetics, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The small GTPase Rap is best characterized as a critical regulator of integrin-mediated cell adhesion, although its mechanism of action is not understood. Rap also influences the properties of other cell-surface receptors and biological processes, although whether these are a consequence of effects on integrins is not clear. We show here that Rap also plays an important role in the regulation of cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion in epithelial cells. Expression of constitutively active Rap1A restored cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts in mesenchymal Ras-transformed Madin-Darby canine kidney cells, resulting in reversion to an epithelial phenotype. Activation of endogenous Rap via the Rap exchange factor Epac1 also antagonized hepatocyte growth factor-induced disruption of adherens junctions. Inhibition of Rap signaling resulted in disruption of epithelial cell-cell contacts. Rap activity was required for adhesion of cells to recombinant E-cadherin extracellular domains, i.e. in the absence of integrin-mediated adhesion. These findings suggest that Rap signaling positively contributes to cadherin-mediated adhesion and that this occurs independently of effects on integrin-mediated adhesion. Our results imply that Rap may function in a broader manner to regulate the function of cell-surface adhesion receptors.

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