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J Biol Chem. 2006 Dec 22;281(51):39573-87. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

The role of the beta1 subunit of the Na,K-ATPase and its glycosylation in cell-cell adhesion.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, UCLA and Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, California 90073, USA.


Based on recent data showing that overexpression of the Na,K-ATPase beta(1) subunit increased cell-cell adhesion of nonpolarized cells, we hypothesized that the beta(1) subunit can also be involved in the formation of cell-cell contacts in highly polarized epithelial cells. In support of this hypothesis, in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells, the Na,K-ATPase alpha(1) and beta(1) subunits were detected as precisely co-localized with adherens junctions in all stages of the monolayer formation starting from the initiation of cell-cell contact. The Na,K-ATPase and adherens junction protein, beta-catenin, stayed partially co-localized even after their internalization upon disruption of intercellular contacts by Ca(2+) depletion of the medium. The Na,K-ATPase subunits remained co-localized with the adherens junctions after detergent treatment of the cells. In contrast, the heterodimer formed by expressed unglycosylated Na,K-ATPase beta(1) subunit and the endogenous alpha(1) subunit was easily dissociated from the adherens junctions and cytoskeleton by the detergent extraction. The MDCK cell line in which half of the endogenous beta(1) subunits in the lateral membrane were substituted by unglycosylated beta(1) subunits displayed a decreased ability to form cell-to-cell contacts. Incubation of surface-attached MDCK cells with an antibody against the extracellular domain of the Na,K-ATPase beta(1) subunit specifically inhibited cell-cell contact formation. We conclude that the Na,K-ATPase beta(1) subunit is involved in the process of intercellular adhesion and is necessary for association of the heterodimeric Na,K-ATPase with the adherens junctions. Further, normal glycosylation of the Na,K-ATPase beta(1) subunit is essential for the stable association of the pump with the adherens junctions and plays an important role in cell-cell contact formation.

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