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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 23;92(11):5067-71.

Genetic and biochemical dissection of protein linkages in the cadherin-catenin complex.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.


The cadherin-catenin complex is important for mediating homotypic, calcium-dependent cell-cell interactions in diverse tissue types. Although proteins of this complex have been identified, little is known about their interactions. Using a genetic assay in yeast and an in vitro protein-binding assay, we demonstrate that beta-catenin is the linker protein between E-cadherin and alpha-catenin and that E-cadherin does not bind directly to alpha-catenin. We show that a 25-amino acid sequence in the cytoplasmic domain of E-cadherin and the amino-terminal domain of alpha-catenin are independent binding sites for beta-catenin. In addition to beta-catenin and plakoglobin, another member of the armadillo family, p120 binds to E-cadherin. However, unlike beta-catenin, p120 does not bind alpha-catenin in vitro, although a complex of p120 and endogenous alpha-catenin could be immunoprecipitated from cell extracts. In vitro protein-binding assays using recombinant E-cadherin cytoplasmic domain and alpha-catenin revealed two catenin pools in cell lysates: an approximately 1000- to approximately 2000-kDa complex bound to E-cadherin and an approximately 220-kDa pool that did not contain E-cadherin. Only beta-catenin in the approximately 220-kDa pool bound exogenous E-cadherin. Delineation of these molecular linkages and the demonstration of separate pools of catenins in different cell lines provide a foundation for examining regulatory mechanisms involved in the assembly and function of the cadherin-catenin complex.

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