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Development. 1994 Apr;120(4):901-9.

Selective disruption of E-cadherin function in early Xenopus embryos by a dominant negative mutant.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California San Francisco 94143-0448, USA.


E-cadherin function was disrupted in vivo in developing Xenopus laevis embryos through the expression of a mutant E-cadherin protein lacking its cytoplasmic tail. This truncated form of E-cadherin was designed to act as a dominant negative mutant by competing with the extracellular interactions of wild-type endogenous E-cadherin. Expression of truncated E-cadherin in the early embryo causes lesions to develop in the ectoderm during gastrulation. In contrast, expression of a similarly truncated N-cadherin protein failed to cause the lesions. The ectodermal defect caused by the truncated E-cadherin is rescued by overexpression of wild-type E-cadherin, by co-injection of full-length E-cadherin RNA along with the RNA for the truncated form. Overexpression of full-length C-cadherin, however, is unable to compensate for the disruption of E-cadherin function and can actually cause similar ectodermal lesions when injected alone, suggesting that there is a specific requirement for E-cadherin. Therefore, E-cadherin seems to be specifically required for maintaining the integrity of the ectoderm during epiboly in the gastrulating Xenopus embryo. Differential cadherin expression reflects, therefore, the requirement for distinct adhesive properties during different morphogenetic cell behaviors.

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