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Eur J Cell Biol. 2005 Mar;84(2-3):189-204.

Plakophilins--hard work in the desmosome, recreation in the nucleus?

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Philipp University of Marburg Medical School, Institute of Pathology, Baldingerstrasse, Marburg D-35033, Germany.


The linkage of the different types of cytoskeletal proteins to cell adhesion structures at the cytoplasmic membrane and the connection of these contact sites to corresponding sites of adjacent cells is a prerequisite for integrity and stability of cells and tissues. The structurally most prominent types of such cell-cell adhesion complexes are the desmosomes (maculae adhaerentes), which are found in all epithelia and certain non-epithelial tissues. As an element of the cytoskeleton, intermediate filaments are connected to the adhesive desmosomal transmembrane proteins by the cytoplasmic desmosomal plaque proteins. At least three different types of proteins are found in the desmosomal plaque, one of which is represented by the plakophilins, a recently described sub-family of sequence-related armadillo-repeat proteins. Consisting of three isoforms, plakophilins (plakophilin 1 to 3, PKP 1 to 3) are located in all desmosomes in a differentiation-dependent manner. While PKP 2 and PKP 3 are part of almost all desmosome-bearing cell types (PKP 2 except for differentiated cells of stratified epithelia and PKP 3 for hepatocytes and cardiomyocytes), PKP 1 is restricted to desmosomes of cells of stratified and complex epithelia. Besides the architectural function that plakophilins seem to fulfill in the desmosomes, at least PKP 1 and 2 are also localized in the nucleus independently of any differentiation-related processes and with an up to now enigmatic function in this compartment. In the following article we want to summarize the current knowledge concerning structure, function and regulation of the plakophilins that has been achieved during the last decade.

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