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J Biol Chem. 1997 Feb 14;272(7):4536-43.

Regulation of complexed and free catenin pools by distinct mechanisms. Differential effects of Wnt-1 and v-Src.

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  • SUGEN, Inc., Redwood City, California 94063, USA.


Cadherins are transmembrane receptors with an extracellular domain that participates in homophilic cell to cell adhesion and a cytoplasmic domain that associates with proteins called catenins. Cadherin-mediated adhesion as well as adhesion-independent functions for catenins play important roles in differentiation, development, and malignant transformation. Mechanisms that regulate steady-state catenin levels and cadherin-catenin complex stability are poorly understood, but activities of both the Wnt-1 proto-oncogene and tyrosine kinases are implicated. Here I define, at the biochemical level, distinct mechanisms that modulate steady-state catenin levels. Increased cadherin expression, providing more catenin binding sites, leads to selective stabilization of the cadherin-associated population of alpha- and beta-catenin, but not p120(cas). In contrast, expression of Wnt-1 leads primarily to increased stability of the uncomplexed pool of beta-catenin without effect on p120(cas). Significantly, the Wnt-1-induced stabilization of uncomplexed beta-catenin is independent of cadherin expression. Transformation by v-Src does not disrupt the catenin-cadherin complex despite the phosphorylation of E-cadherin and beta-catenin on tyrosine. In contrast to the effects of Wnt-1, v-Src does not modulate the uncomplexed population of beta-catenin. p120(cas) is phosphorylated on tyrosine by v-Src, and this is accompanied by a significant decrease in the level of uncomplexed p120(cas) as well as a change in behavior of p120(cas) upon biochemical fractionation. Taken together these data suggest that p120(cas) and beta-catenin are regulated independently.

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