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      Keratins control intercellular adhesion involving PKC-α–mediated desmoplakin phosphorylation

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          Keratins limit PKC-α phosphorylation activity and desmosome turnover to ensure the stability of epithelial intracellular adhesion.


          Maintenance of epithelial cell adhesion is crucial for epidermal morphogenesis and homeostasis and relies predominantly on the interaction of keratins with desmosomes. Although the importance of desmosomes to epidermal coherence and keratin organization is well established, the significance of keratins in desmosome organization has not been fully resolved. Here, we report that keratinocytes lacking all keratins show elevated, PKC-α–mediated desmoplakin phosphorylation and subsequent destabilization of desmosomes. We find that PKC-α activity is regulated by Rack1–keratin interaction. Without keratins, desmosomes assemble but are endocytosed at accelerated rates, rendering epithelial sheets highly susceptible to mechanical stress. Re-expression of the keratin pair K5/14, inhibition of PKC-α activity, or blocking of endocytosis reconstituted both desmosome localization at the plasma membrane and epithelial adhesion. Our findings identify a hitherto unknown mechanism by which keratins control intercellular adhesion, with potential implications for tumor invasion and keratinopathies, settings in which diminished cell adhesion facilitates tissue fragility and neoplastic growth.

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          Most cited references 48

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          Dynasore, a cell-permeable inhibitor of dynamin.

          Dynamin is essential for clathrin-dependent coated vesicle formation. It is required for membrane budding at a late stage during the transition from a fully formed pit to a pinched-off vesicle. Dynamin may also fulfill other roles during earlier stages of vesicle formation. We have screened about 16,000 small molecules and have identified 1, named here dynasore, that interferes in vitro with the GTPase activity of dynamin1, dynamin2, and Drp1, the mitochondrial dynamin, but not of other small GTPases. Dynasore acts as a potent inhibitor of endocytic pathways known to depend on dynamin by rapidly blocking coated vesicle formation within seconds of dynasore addition. Two types of coated pit intermediates accumulate during dynasore treatment, U-shaped, half formed pits and O-shaped, fully formed pits, captured while pinching off. Thus, dynamin acts at two steps during clathrin coat formation; GTP hydrolysis is probably needed at both steps.
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            Directed actin polymerization is the driving force for epithelial cell-cell adhesion.

            We have found that epithelial cells engage in a process of cadherin-mediated intercellular adhesion that utilizes calcium and actin polymerization in unexpected ways. Calcium stimulates filopodia, which penetrate and embed into neighboring cells. E-cadherin complexes cluster at filopodia tips, generating a two-rowed zipper of embedded puncta. Opposing cell surfaces are clamped by desmosomes, while vinculin, zyxin, VASP, and Mena are recruited to adhesion zippers by a mechanism that requires alpha-catenin. Actin reorganizes and polymerizes to merge puncta into a single row and seal cell borders. In keratinocytes either null for alpha-catenin or blocked in VASP/Mena function, filopodia embed, but actin reorganization/polymerization is prevented, and membranes cannot seal. Taken together, a dynamic mechanism for intercellular adhesion is unveiled involving calcium-activated filopodia penetration and VASP/Mena-dependent actin reorganization/polymerization.
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              Tissue organization by cadherin adhesion molecules: dynamic molecular and cellular mechanisms of morphogenetic regulation.

              This review addresses the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cadherin-based tissue morphogenesis. Tissue physiology is profoundly influenced by the distinctive organizations of cells in organs and tissues. In metazoa, adhesion receptors of the classical cadherin family play important roles in establishing and maintaining such tissue organization. Indeed, it is apparent that cadherins participate in a range of morphogenetic events that range from support of tissue integrity to dynamic cellular rearrangements. A comprehensive understanding of cadherin-based morphogenesis must then define the molecular and cellular mechanisms that support these distinct cadherin biologies. Here we focus on four key mechanistic elements: the molecular basis for adhesion through cadherin ectodomains, the regulation of cadherin expression at the cell surface, cooperation between cadherins and the actin cytoskeleton, and regulation by cell signaling. We discuss current progress and outline issues for further research in these fields.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02142
                [2 ]Institute of Biology and Translational Center for Regenerative Medicine, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
                [3 ]Institute of Molecular and Cellular Anatomy, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence to Thomas M. Magin: thomas.magin@

                C. Kröger and F. Loschke contributed equally to this paper.

                J Cell Biol
                J. Cell Biol
                The Journal of Cell Biology
                The Rockefeller University Press
                27 May 2013
                : 201
                : 5
                : 681-692
                © 2013 Kröger et al.

                This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, as described at

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