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Differentiation. 1983;23(3):189-205.

Spatial distribution of proteins specific for desmosomes and adhaerens junctions in epithelial cells demonstrated by double immunofluorescence microscopy.


The spatial relationships between the protein constituents to two junctional structures, adhaerens junctions and desmosomes, were determined by double immunofluorescence microscopy using marker proteins specific for these structures. Adhaerens junctions were visualized by immunofluorescent labeling for the membrane-associated protein vinculin and by their association with actin filaments. Desmosomal components were identified by labeling with antibodies to a group of minor desmosomal plaque proteins (DP1 antigens) and their association with filaments stained by cytokeratin antibodies. Double immunofluorescence microscopy of these components was performed in several tissues and cultured cells, including intact intestine, dissociated intestinal cells, and two morphologically different types of epithelial cells, cultured bovine kidney (MDBK), and mammary gland (BMGE) epithelial cells. This allowed the direct demonstration that each filament system is associated exclusively with its specific membrane-bound junctional protein. Vinculin and DP1-protein were found in distinct sites in the subapical intercellular junctional complex of intestinal epithelium and MDBK cells. Cell-substrate focal contacts contained vinculin and actin and showed no apparent relationships to the tonofilament system whereas intercellular contacts of BMGE cells were characterized by positive staining for DP1-protein and associated cytokeratin filaments. Immunolabeling of the cultured cells at different intervals after plating for the cytoskeletal elements and their membrane anchorage proteins was used to determine the temporal sequence of their organization. We propose that this approach may be used for the molecular definition and identification of cellular contacts and junctions as well as for studies of junction topology, dynamics and junction-cytoskeleton interactions, and junction biogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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