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J Cell Biol. 2016 Dec 5;215(5):735-747. Epub 2016 Nov 17.

Cadherin-6B proteolysis promotes the neural crest cell epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition through transcriptional regulation.

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Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.
Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742


During epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs), cells disassemble cadherin-based junctions to segregate from the epithelia. Chick premigratory cranial neural crest cells reduce Cadherin-6B (Cad6B) levels through several mechanisms, including proteolysis, to permit their EMT and migration. Serial processing of Cad6B by a disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) proteins and γ-secretase generates intracellular C-terminal fragments (CTF2s) that could acquire additional functions. Here we report that Cad6B CTF2 possesses a novel pro-EMT role by up-regulating EMT effector genes in vivo. After proteolysis, CTF2 remains associated with β-catenin, which stabilizes and redistributes both proteins to the cytosol and nucleus, leading to up-regulation of β-catenin, CyclinD1, Snail2, and Snail2 promoter-based GFP expression in vivo. A CTF2 β-catenin-binding mutant, however, fails to alter gene expression, indicating that CTF2 modulates β-catenin-responsive EMT effector genes. Notably, CTF2 association with the endogenous Snail2 promoter in the neural crest is β-catenin dependent. Collectively, our data reveal how Cad6B proteolysis orchestrates multiple pro-EMT regulatory inputs, including CTF2-mediated up-regulation of the Cad6B repressor Snail2, to ensure proper cranial neural crest EMT.

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