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Toxicology. 2008 Feb 28;244(2-3):133-44. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

Yessotoxin inhibits the complete degradation of E-cadherin.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Via G. Campi 287, I-41100 Modena, Italy.


Previous in vitro and in vivo toxicological studies on the effects of yessotoxin (YTX) on E-cadherin have provided conflicting results with regard to alterations of its turnover. We have then studied the effects of YTX on the degradation pathway of E-cadherin in intact cells under controlled conditions, and found that the 100kDa E-cadherin fragment (ECRA100) accumulated in cells exposed to YTX is an intermediate degradation product, detectable when the process is altered by agents interfering with endocytosis and lysosomal functioning. Cell treatment with YTX slows down the degradation of ECRA100, without affecting the half-lives of intact E-cadherin and its associated proteins beta-catenin and gamma-catenin. When cells have been treated with an inhibitor of proteasomes (lactacystin), the accumulation of ECRA100 induced by YTX was reduced. Accumulation of ECRA100, in turn, was observed after cells were exposed to inhibitors of lysosomal functioning (chloroquine) and of clathrin-mediated endocytosis (chloropromazine), but not to agents interfering with the caveolae-mediated pathway (nystatin and filipin III). The actin cytoskeleton was involved in endocytosis of ECRA100, because its accumulation was detected after MCF-7 cells had been treated with cytochalasin D. Nocodazole treatment of MCF-7 cells, in turn, did not lead to detection of ECRA100, indicating that microtubules should not be involved in its degradation. We have concluded that YTX interferes with the degradation pathway of E-cadherin by slowing down the endocytosis and complete disposal of the ECRA100 intermediate proteolytic fragment, whose cell levels are consequently increased in cells exposed to the toxin. These findings reconcile the apparent contradictions of previous studies, showing that YTX does not promote E-cadherin degradation per se, but interferes with its complete disposal.

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