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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Feb 4;94(3):901-6.

An alpha-E-catenin gene trap mutation defines its function in preimplantation development.

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Abteilung Molekulare Zellbiologie, Max-Planck-Institut für Biophysikalische Chemie, Göttingen, Germany.


Catenins are proteins associated with the cytoplasmic domain of cadherins, a family of transmembrane cell adhesion molecules. The cadherin-catenin adhesion system is involved in morphogenesis during development and in the maintenance of the integrity of different tissue types. Using a gene trap strategy, we have isolated a mouse mutation for the gene encoding the alpha-E-catenin. This form of the alpha-catenin appears frequently coexpressed with E-cadherin in epithelial cell types. The mutation obtained eliminates the carboxyl-terminal third of the protein but nevertheless provokes a complete loss-of-function phenotype. Homozygous mutants show disruption of the trophoblast epithelium (the first differentiated embryonic tissue), and development is consequently blocked at the blastocyst stage. This phenotype parallels the defects observed in E-cadherin mutant embryos. Our results show the requirement of the alpha-E-catenin carboxy terminus for its function and represent evidence of the role of the alpha-E-catenin in vivo, identifying this molecule as the natural partner of the E-cadherin in trophoblast epithelium.

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