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Curr Biol. 2007 Oct 23;17(20):1791-6. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

C. elegans Enabled exhibits novel interactions with N-WASP, Abl, and cell-cell junctions.

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Program in Genetics, University of Wisconsin, 1117 West Johnson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Ena/VASP proteins are associated with cell-cell junctions in cultured mammalian cells [1] and Drosophila epithelia [2, 3], but they have only been extensively studied at the leading edges of migratory fibroblasts, where they modulate the protrusion of the leading edge [4]. They act by regulating actin-filament geometry, antagonizing the effects of actin-capping protein [5]. Embryos lacking the C. elegans Ena/VASP, UNC-34, display subtle defects in the leading edges of migrating epidermal cells but undergo normal epidermal morphogenesis. In contrast, embryos lacking both UNC-34 and the C. elegans N-WASP homolog have severe defects in epidermal morphogenesis, suggesting that they have parallel roles in coordinating cell behavior. GFP-tagged UNC-34 localizes to the leading edges of migrating epidermal cells, becoming redistributed to new junctions that form during epidermal-sheet sealing. Consistent with this, UNC-34 contributes to the formation of cadherin-based junctions. The junctional localization of UNC-34 is independent of proteins involved in Ena/VASP localization in other experimental systems; instead, junctional distribution depends upon the junctional protein AJM-1. We also show that Abelson tyrosine kinase, a major regulator of Enabled in Drosophila, is not required for UNC-34/Ena function in epithelia. Instead, our data suggest that Abelson kinase acts in parallel to UNC-34/Ena, antagonizing its function.

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