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FEBS Lett. 1994 Nov 28;355(2):195-200.

Distinct cadherin-catenin complexes in Ca(2+)-dependent cell-cell adhesion.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Immunbiologie, Freiburg, Germany.


Catenins are peripheral cytoplasmic proteins originally identified in association with the mouse epithelial cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. Molecular cloning and primary structure analysis demonstrated that alpha-catenin is homologous to vinculin and the beta-catenin is homologous to human plakoglobin and the Drosophila gene product armadillo. With the use of peptide-specific anti plakoglobin antibodies were confirm here that plakoglobin is a component of the cadherin-catenin complex and that it is most likely identical to gamma-catenin. We show that plakoglobin binds directly to E-cadherin. We consolidate the biochemical evidence for the existence of two distinct and separable E-cadherin-catenin complexes in the same cell. One complex is composed of E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenin, the other of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin and plakoglobin. A similar distinct association with catenins is also found for other cadherins. Comparison of different cell lines revealed that the relative amounts of the two complexes vary depending on cell types.

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