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Exp Cell Res. 2010 Jul 1;316(11):1871-84. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.02.008. Epub 2010 Feb 13.

Hypoglycosylated E-cadherin promotes the assembly of tight junctions through the recruitment of PP2A to adherens junctions.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Epithelial cell-cell adhesion is controlled by multiprotein complexes that include E-cadherin-mediated adherens junctions (AJs) and ZO-1-containing tight junctions (TJs). Previously, we reported that reduction of E-cadherin N-glycosylation in normal and cancer cells promoted stabilization of AJs through changes in the composition and cytoskeletal association of E-cadherin scaffolds. Here, we show that enhanced interaction of hypoglycosylated E-cadherin-containing AJs with protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) represents a mechanism for promoting TJ assembly. In MDCK cells, attenuation of cellular N-glycosylation with siRNA to DPAGT1, the first gene in the N-glycosylation pathway, reduced N-glycosylation of surface E-cadherin and resulted in increased recruitment of stabilizing proteins gamma-catenin, alpha-catenin, vinculin and PP2A to AJs. Greater association of PP2A with AJs correlated with diminished binding of PP2A to ZO-1 and claudin-1 and with increased pools of serine-phosphorylated ZO-1 and claudin-1. More ZO-1 was found in complexes with occludin and claudin-1, and this corresponded to enhanced transepithelial resistance (TER), indicating physiological assembly of TJs. Similar maturation of AJs and TJs was detected after transfection of MDCK cells with the hypoglycosylated E-cadherin variant, V13. Our data indicate that E-cadherin N-glycans coordinate the maturity of AJs with the assembly of TJs by affecting the association of PP2A with these junctional complexes.

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