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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Jan;1773(1):8-16. Epub 2006 Jul 21.

Role of p120-catenin in cadherin trafficking.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Dermatology, Emory University School of Medicine, Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, 615 Michael Street, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. kxiao@emory.edu


p120-catenin (p120) has emerged over the past several years as an important regulatory component of the cadherin adhesive complex. A core function of p120 in mammalian cells is to stabilize cadherins at the cell membrane by modulating cadherin membrane trafficking and degradation. In this way, p120 levels act as a set point mechanism that tunes cell-cell adhesive interactions. The primary control point for this regulatory activity appears to be at the level of cadherin internalization from the plasma membrane, although p120 may also impact other aspects of cadherin trafficking and turnover. In the following review, the general mechanisms of cadherin trafficking are discussed, and models for how p120 may influence cadherin membrane dynamics are presented. In one model, p120 may function as a "cap" to bind the cadherin cytoplasmic tail and prevent cadherin interactions with endocytic membrane trafficking machinery. Alternatively, p120 may stabilize cell junctions or regulate membrane trafficking machinery through interactions with small GTPases such as Rho A, Rac and Cdc42. Through these mechanisms p120 exerts influence over a wide range of biological processes that are dependent upon tight regulation of cell surface cadherin levels.

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