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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Jan;1773(1):69-77. Epub 2006 May 6.

Plakophilins: Multifunctional proteins or just regulators of desmosomal adhesion?

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  • 1Institute of Pathophysiology, Division of Pathobiochemistry, University of Halle, Hollystrasse 1, 06097 Halle, Germany.


Plakophilins 1-3 are members of the p120(ctn) family of armadillo-related proteins. The plakophilins have been characterized as desmosomal proteins, whereas p120(ctn) and the closely related delta-catenin, ARVCF and p0071 associate with adherens junctions and play essential roles in stabilizing cadherin mediated adhesion. Recent evidence suggests that plakophilins are essential components of the desmosomal plaque where they interact with desmosomal cadherins as well as the cytoskeletal linker protein desmoplakin. Plakophilins stabilize desmosomal proteins at the plasma membrane and therefore may function in a manner similar to p120(ctn) in the adherens junctions. The three plakophilins reveal distinct expression patterns, and although partially redundant in their function, mediate distinct effects on desmosomal adhesion. Besides a structural role, a function in signaling has been postulated in analogy to other armadillo proteins such as beta-catenin. At least plakophilins 1 and 2 are also localized in the nucleus, and all three proteins occur in a cytoplasmic pool. This review aims to summarize the current knowledge of plakophilin function in the context of cell adhesion, signaling and their putative role in diseases.

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