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J Cell Sci. 1998 Oct;111 ( Pt 20):3045-57.

VE-cadherin and desmoplakin are assembled into dermal microvascular endothelial intercellular junctions: a pivotal role for plakoglobin in the recruitment of desmoplakin to intercellular junctions.

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  • 1Departments of Dermatology, Pathology, and The Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, USA.


Vascular endothelial cells assemble adhesive intercellular junctions comprising a unique cadherin, VE-cadherin, which is coupled to the actin cytoskeleton through cytoplasmic interactions with plakoglobin, beta-catenin and alpha -catenin. However, the potential linkage between VE-cadherin and the vimentin intermediate filament cytoskeleton is not well characterized. Recent evidence indicates that lymphatic and vascular endothelial cells express desmoplakin, a cytoplasmic desmosomal protein that attaches intermediate filaments to the plasma membrane in epithelial cells. In the present study, desmoplakin was localized to intercellular junctions in human dermal microvascular endothelial cells. To determine if VE-cadherin could associate with desmoplakin, VE-cadherin, plakoglobin, and a desmoplakin amino-terminal polypeptide (DP-NTP) were co-expressed in L-cell fibroblasts. In the presence of VE-cadherin, both plakoglobin and DP-NTP were recruited to cell-cell borders. Interestingly, beta-catenin could not substitute for plakoglobin in the recruitment of DP-NTP to cell borders, and DP-NTP bound to plakoglobin but not beta-catenin in the yeast two-hybrid system. In addition, DP-NTP colocalized at cell-cell borders with alpha-catenin in the L-cell lines, and endogenous desmoplakin and alpha-catenin colocalized in cultured dermal microvascular endothelial cells. This is in striking contrast to epithelial cells, where desmoplakin and alpha -+catenin are restricted to desmosomes and adherens junctions, respectively. These results suggest that endothelial cells assemble unique junctional complexes that couple VE-cadherin to both the actin and intermediate filament cytoskeleton.

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