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J Biol Chem. 2006 Feb 3;281(5):2901-10. Epub 2005 Oct 26.

Prototypical type I E-cadherin and type II cadherin-7 mediate very distinct adhesiveness through their extracellular domains.

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UMR 144 CNRS-Institut Curie, 75248 Paris, France.


Using a dual pipette assay that measures the force required to separate adherent cell doublets, we have quantitatively compared intercellular adhesiveness mediated by Type I (E- or N-cadherin) or Type II (cadherin-7 or -11) cadherins. At similar cadherin expression levels, cells expressing Type I cadherins adhered much more rapidly and strongly than cells expressing Type II cadherins. Using chimeric cadherins, we found that the extracellular domain exerts by far the dominant effect on cell adhesivity, that of E-cadherin conferring high adhesivity, and that of cadherin-7 conferring low adhesivity. Type I cadherins were incorporated to a greater extent into detergent-insoluble cytoskeletal complexes, and their cytoplasmic tails were much more effective in disrupting strong adherent junctions, suggesting that Type II cadherins form less stable complexes with beta-catenin. The present study demonstrates compellingly, for the first time, that cadherins are dramatically different in their ability to promote intercellular adhesiveness, a finding that has profound implications for the regulation of tissue morphogenesis.

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