Expression of inappropriate cadherins by epithelial tumor cells promotes endocytosis and degradation of E-cadherin via competition for p120ctn

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Cadherin cell-cell adhesion proteins play an important role in modulating the behavior of tumor cells. E-cadherin serves as a suppressor of tumor cell invasion, and when tumor cells turn on the expression of a non-epithelial cadherin, they often express less E-cadherin, enhancing the tumorigenic phenotype of the cells. Here, we show that when A431 cells are forced to express R-cadherin, they dramatically downregulate the expression of endogenous E- and P-cadherin. In addition, we show that this downregulation is owing to increased turnover of the endogenous cadherins via clathrin-dependent endocytosis. p120ctn binds to the juxtamembrane domain of classical cadherins and has been proposed to regulate cadherin adhesive activity. One way p120ctn may accomplish this is to serve as a rheostat to regulate the levels of cadherin. Here, we show that the degradation of E-cadherin in response to expression of R-cadherin is owing to competition for p120ctn.

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