Biochemical and structural analysis of α-catenin in cell-cell contacts

Sabine Pokutta, Frauke Drees, Soichiro Yamada, W. James Nelson, William I. Weis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cadherins are transmembrane adhesion molecules that mediate homotypic cell-cell contact. In adherens junctions, the cytoplasmic domain of cadherins is functionally linked to the actin cytoskeleton through a series of proteins known as catenins. E-cadherin binds to β-catenin, which in turn binds to α-catenin to form a ternary complex. α-Catenin also binds to actin, and it was assumed previously that α-catenin links the cadherin-catenin complex to actin. However, biochemical, structural and live-cell imaging studies of the cadherin-catenin complex and its interaction with actin show that binding of β-catenin to α-catenin prevents the latter from binding to actin. Biochemical and structural data indicate that α-catenin acts as an allosteric protein whose conformation and activity changes depending on whether or not it is bound to β-catenin. Initial contacts between cells occur on dynamic lamellipodia formed by polymerization of branched actin networks, a process controlled by the Arp2/3 (actin-related protein 2/3) complex. α-Catenin can suppress the activity of Arp2/3 by competing for actin filaments. These findings lead to a model for adherens junction formation in which clustering of the cadherin-β-catenin complex recruits high levels of α-catenin that can suppress the Arp2/3 complex, leading to cessation of lamellipodial movement and formation of a stable contact. Thus α-catenin appears to play a central role in cell-cell contact formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-147
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Catenins
Structural analysis
Cadherins
Actins
Actin-Related Protein 2-3 Complex
Adherens Junctions
Actin Cytoskeleton
Actin-Related Protein 2
Actin-Related Protein 3
Cell-in-Cell Formation
Protein Conformation
Pseudopodia

Keywords

  • Actin
  • Actin-related protein 2/3 complex (Arp2/3 complex)
  • Adherens junction
  • Cadherin
  • Catenin
  • Cell adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry

Cite this

Pokutta, S., Drees, F., Yamada, S., Nelson, W. J., & Weis, W. I. (2008). Biochemical and structural analysis of α-catenin in cell-cell contacts. Biochemical Society Transactions, 36(2), 141-147. https://doi.org/10.1042/BST0360141

Biochemical and structural analysis of α-catenin in cell-cell contacts. / Pokutta, Sabine; Drees, Frauke; Yamada, Soichiro; Nelson, W. James; Weis, William I.

In: Biochemical Society Transactions, Vol. 36, No. 2, 04.2008, p. 141-147.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pokutta, S, Drees, F, Yamada, S, Nelson, WJ & Weis, WI 2008, 'Biochemical and structural analysis of α-catenin in cell-cell contacts', Biochemical Society Transactions, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 141-147. https://doi.org/10.1042/BST0360141
Pokutta, Sabine ; Drees, Frauke ; Yamada, Soichiro ; Nelson, W. James ; Weis, William I. / Biochemical and structural analysis of α-catenin in cell-cell contacts. In: Biochemical Society Transactions. 2008 ; Vol. 36, No. 2. pp. 141-147.
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