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Mol Biol Cell. 2007 Aug;18(8):3214-23. Epub 2007 Jun 6.

E-cadherin adhesion activates c-Src signaling at cell-cell contacts.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4072.


Cadherin-based cell-cell contacts are prominent sites for phosphotyrosine signaling, being enriched in tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins and tyrosine kinases and phosphatases. The functional interplay between cadherin adhesion and tyrosine kinase signaling, however, is complex and incompletely understood. In this report we tested the hypothesis that cadherin adhesion activates c-Src signaling and sought to assess its impact on cadherin function. We identified c-Src as part of a cadherin-activated cell signaling pathway that is stimulated by ligation of the adhesion receptor. However, c-Src has a biphasic impact on cadherin function, exerting a positive supportive role at lower signal strengths, but inhibiting function at high signal strengths. Inhibiting c-Src under circumstances when it is activated by cadherin adhesion decreased several measures of cadherin function. This suggests that the cadherin-activated c-Src signaling pathway serves positively to support cadherin function. Finally, our data implicate PI3-kinase signaling as a target for cadherin-activated c-Src signaling that contributes to its positive impact on cadherin function. We conclude that E-cadherin signaling is an important activator of c-Src at cell-cell contacts, providing a key input into a signaling pathway where quantitative changes in signal strength may result in qualitative differences in functional outcome.

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