Desmosomes are unique intercellular junctions in that they invariably contain two types of transmembrane cadherin molecule, desmocollins and desmogleins. In addition they possess a distinct cytoplasmic plaque structure containing a few major proteins including desmoplakins and the armadillo family member plakoglobin. Desmosomal cadherins are putative cell-cell adhesion molecules and we have tested their adhesive capacity using a transfection approach in mouse L cells. We find that L cells expressing either one or both of the desmosomal cadherins desmocollin 2a or desmoglein 1 display weak cell-cell adhesion activity that is Ca2+-dependent. Both homophilic and heterophilic adhesion could be detected. However, co-expression of plakoglobin with both desmosomal cadherins, but not with desmoglein 1 alone, resulted in a dramatic potentiation of cell-cell aggregation and the accumulation of detergent-insoluble desmosomal proteins at points of cell-cell contact. The effect of plakoglobin seems to be due directly to its interaction with the desmosomal cadherins rather than to its signalling function. The data suggest that the desmosome may obligatorily contain two cadherins and is consistent with a model in which desmocollins and desmogleins may form side by side heterodimers in contrast to the classical cadherins that are homodimeric. Plakoglobin may function by potentiating dimer formation, accretion of dimers to cell-cell contact sites or desmosomal cadherin stability.
Coexpression of both types of desmosomal cadherin and plakoglobin confers strong intercellular adhesion
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C. Marcozzi, I.D. Burdett, R.S. Buxton, A.I. Magee; Coexpression of both types of desmosomal cadherin and plakoglobin confers strong intercellular adhesion. J Cell Sci 15 February 1998; 111 (4): 495–509. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.111.4.495
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