Regulation of cadherin function by Rho and Rac: modulation by junction maturation and cellular context

Braga, V. M.M., Del Maschio, A., Machesky, L. and Dejana, E. (1999) Regulation of cadherin function by Rho and Rac: modulation by junction maturation and cellular context. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 10(1), pp. 9-22. (doi: 10.1091/mbc.10.1.9) (PMID:9880323) (PMCID:PMC25150)

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Cadherins are cell–cell adhesion receptors whose adhesive function requires their association with the actin cytoskeleton via proteins called catenins. The small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases), Rho and Rac, are intracellular proteins that regulate the formation of distinct actin structures in different cell types. In keratinocytes and in other epithelial cells, Rho and Rac activities are required for E-cadherin function. Here we show that the regulation of cadherin adhesiveness by the small GTPases is influenced by the maturation status of the junction and the cellular context. E-cadherin localization was disrupted in mature keratinocyte junctions after inhibition of Rho and Rac. However, an incubation of 2 h was required after GTPase inhibition, when compared with newly established E-cadherin contacts (30 min). Regarding other cadherin receptors, P-cadherin was effectively removed from mature keratinocytes junctions by blocking Rho or Rac. In contrast, VE-cadherin localization at endothelial junctions was independent of Rho/Rac activity. We demontrate that the insensitivity of VE-cadherin to inhibition of Rho and Rac was not due to the maturation status of endothelial junction, but rather the cellular background: when transfected into CHO cells, the localization of VE-cadherin was perturbed by inhibition of Rho proteins. Our results suggest that the same stimuli may have different activity in regulating the paracellular activity in endothelial and epithelial cells. In addition, we uncovered possible roles for the small GTPases during the establishment of E-cadherin–dependent contacts. In keratinocytes, Rac activation by itself cannot promote accumulation of actin at the cell periphery in the absence of cadherin-dependent contacts. Moreover, neither Rho nor Rac activation was sufficient to redistribute cadherin molecules to cell borders, indicating that redistribution results mostly from the homophilic binding of the receptors. Our results point out the complexity of the regulation of cadherin-mediated adhesion by the small GTPases, Rho and Rac.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Machesky, Professor Laura
Authors: Braga, V. M.M., Del Maschio, A., Machesky, L., and Dejana, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cancer Sciences
Journal Name:Molecular Biology of the Cell
Publisher:American Society for Cell Biology
ISSN (Online):1939-4586

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