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J Cell Biol. 1998 Nov 30;143(5):1271-82.

kakapo, a gene required for adhesion between and within cell layers in Drosophila, encodes a large cytoskeletal linker protein related to plectin and dystrophin.

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Wellcome/CRC Institute and Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QR, United Kingdom.


Mutations in kakapo were recovered in genetic screens designed to isolate genes required for integrin-mediated adhesion in Drosophila. We cloned the gene and found that it encodes a large protein (>5,000 amino acids) that is highly similar to plectin and BPAG1 over the first 1,000-amino acid region, and contains within this region an alpha-actinin type actin-binding domain. A central region containing dystrophin-like repeats is followed by a carboxy domain that is distinct from plectin and dystrophin, having neither the intermediate filament-binding domain of plectin nor the dystroglycan/syntrophin-binding domain of dystrophin. Instead, Kakapo has a carboxy terminus similar to the growth arrest-specific protein Gas2. Kakapo is strongly expressed late during embryogenesis at the most prominent site of position-specific integrin adhesion, the muscle attachment sites. It is concentrated at apical and basal surfaces of epidermal muscle attachment cells, at the termini of the prominent microtubule bundles, and is required in these cells for strong attachment to muscles. Kakapo is also expressed more widely at a lower level where it is essential for epidermal cell layer stability. These results suggest that the Kakapo protein forms essential links among integrins, actin, and microtubules.

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