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  • 1
    Abstract: Current cell biology textbooks mention only two kinds of cell-to-cell adhering junctions coated with the cytoplasmic plaques: the desmosomes (maculae adhaerentes), anchoring intermediate-sized filaments (IFs), and the actin microfilament-anchoring adherens junctions (AJs), including both punctate (puncta adhaerentia) and elongate (fasciae adhaerentes) structures. In addition, however, a series of other junction types has been identified and characterized which contain desmosomal molecules but do not fit the definition of desmosomes. Of these special cell-cell junctions containing desmosomal glycoproteins or proteins we review the composite junctions (areae compositae) connecting the cardiomyocytes of mature mammalian hearts and their importance in relation to human arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathies. We also emphasize the various plakophilin-2-positive plaques in AJs (coniunctiones adhaerentes) connecting proliferatively active mesenchymally-derived cells, including interstitial cells of the heart and several soft tissue tumor cell types. Moreover, desmoplakin has also been recognized as a constituent of the plaques of the complexus adhaerentes connecting certain lymphatic endothelial cells. Finally, we emphasize the occurrence of the desmosomal transmembrane glycoprotein, desmoglein Dsg2, out of the context of any junction as dispersed cell surface molecules in certain types of melanoma cells and melanocytes. This broadening of our knowledge on the diversity of AJ structures indicates that it may still be too premature to close the textbook chapters on cell-cell junctions.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 20671973
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  • 2
    Abstract: Using novel antibodies of high avidity to-and specificity for-the constitutive desmosomal plaque protein, plakophilin-2 (Pkp2), in a systematic study of the molecular composition of junctions connecting the cells of soft tissue tumors, we have discovered with immunocytochemical, biochemical and electron microscopical methods, a novel type of adherens junctions in all 32 cardiac myxomata examined. These junctions contain cadherin-11 as their major transmembrane glycoprotein, which we could repeatedly show in colocalization with N-cadherin, anchored in a cytoplasmic plaque formed by alpha- and beta-catenin, together with the further armadillo-type proteins plakoglobin, p120, p0071 and ARVCF. Surprisingly, all adherens junctions of these tumors contained, in addition, another major armadillo protein Pkp2, hitherto known as an obligatory and characteristic constituent of desmosomes in epithelium-derived tumors. We have not detected Pkp2 in a series of noncardiac myxomata studied in parallel. Therefore, we conclude that this acquisition of Pkp2, which we have recently also observed in some mesenchymally derived cells growing in culture, can also occur in tumorigenic transformations in situ. We propose to examine the marker value of Pkp2 in clinical diagnoses of cardiac myxomata and to develop Pkp2-targeted therapeutic reagents.Modern Pathology advance online publication, 6 August 2010; doi:10.1038/modpathol.2010.138.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 20693980
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  • 3
    Keywords: desmosomes ; cell differentiation ; adhering junctions ; hematopoietic cells ; mesenchymal–epithelial transitions ; desmoglein
    Abstract: Using biochemical as well as light- and electron-microscopic immunolocalization methods, in cultures of unicellular human blood tumor cells, we have studied the phenomenon of spontaneous and cumulative syntheses of certain epithelial proteins and glycoproteins and their assemblies to two major kinds of novel cell-cell junctions, adhering junctions (AJs) and junctions based on the epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). More than two decades, we have selected and characterized clonal sublines of multipotential hematopoietic K562 cells, which are enriched in newly formed AJs based on cis-clusters of desmoglein Dsg2, in some sublines accompanied by desmocollin Dsc2. Both desmosomal cadherins can be anchored in a submembranous plaque containing plakoglobin and plakophilins Pkp2 and Pkp3, with or without other armadillo proteins and desmoplakin. Also, these cells are often connected by an additional, extended junction system, in which the transmembrane epithelial glycoprotein EpCAM is associated with a cytoplasmic plaque rich in several actin-binding proteins such as afadin, alpha-actinin, ezrin and vinculin. Both kinds of junctions contribute to connections of K562 cells into epithelioid monolayers or even three-dimensional, tissue-like structures, thus markedly changing the cell biological nature and behavior of the resulting tumor subforms (mesenchymal-epithelial transitions). We discuss molecular mechanisms involved in the formation and function of these junctions, also with respect to tumor spread and metastasis, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic consequences.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 21647878
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  • 4
    Keywords: EPITHELIAL-CELLS ; RIGHT-VENTRICULAR CARDIOMYOPATHY ; DESMOPLAKIN-CONTAINING JUNCTIONS ; intercalated disks ; HEART-MUSCLE CELLS ; COMPLEXUS ADHAERENTES ; plakophilin-2 ; AREA-COMPOSITA ; RAT CARDIOMYOCYTES ; VERTEBRATES
    Abstract: Recently the protein myozap (myocardium-enriched zonula adhaerens protein), a 54-kDa polypeptide, which is not a member of any of the known cytoskeletal and junctional protein multigene families, has been identified as a constituent of the plaques of the composite junctions in the intercalated disks connecting the cardiomyocytes of mammalian hearts. Using a set of novel, highly sensitive and specific antibodies we now report that myozap is also a major constituent of the cytoplasmic plaques of the adherens junctions (AJs) connecting the endothelial cells of the mammalian blood and lymph vascular systems, including the desmoplakin-containing complexus adhaerentes of the virgultar cells of lymph node sinus. In light and electron microscopic immunolocalization experiments we show that myozap colocalizes with several proteins of desmosomal plaques as well as with AJ-specific transmembrane molecules, including VE-cadherin. In biochemical analyses, rigorous immunoprecipitation experiments have revealed N-cadherin, desmoplakin, desmoglein-2, plakophilin-2, plakoglobin and plectin as very stably bound complex partners. We conclude that myozap is a general component of cell-cell junctions not only in the myocardium but also in diverse endothelia of the blood and lymph vascular systems of adult mammals, suggesting that this protein not only serves a specific role in the heart but also a broader set of functions in the vessel systems. We also propose to use myozap as an endothelial cell type marker in diagnoses.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 21992629
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  • 5
    Keywords: CELLS ; EXPRESSION ; PROTEIN ; PROTEINS ; EPITHELIA ; KERATINOCYTES ; IDENTIFICATION ; MERKEL CELLS ; MELANOMA-CELLS ; ADHERENS JUNCTIONS ; plakophilin-2 ; Asymmetric junctions ; CONTACTS ; CYTOKERATIN ; Heterotypic junctions ; HUMAN-FETAL SKIN
    Abstract: Merkel cells (MCs) are special neuroendocrine epithelial cells that occur as individual cells or as cell groups within the confinements of a major epithelium formed and dominated by other epithelial cells. In the epidermis and some of its appendages MCs are mostly located in the basal cell layer, occasionally also in suprabasal layers and generally occur in linear arrays in outer root sheath cell layers of hair follicles. As MCs are connected to the adjacent keratinocytes by a series of adhering junctions (AJs), of which the desmosomes are the most prominent, these junctions represent heterotypic cell-cell connections, i.e. a kind of structure not yet elucidated in molecular terms. Therefore, we have studied these AJs in order to examine the molecular composition of the desmosomal halves. Using light- and electron-microscopic immunolocalization and keratin 20 as the MC-specific cell type marker we show that the plaques of the MC half of the desmosomes specifically and constitutively contain plakophilin Pkp2. This protein, however, is absent in the keratinocyte half of such heterotypic desmosomes which instead contains Pkp1 and/or Pkp3. We discuss the developmental, tissue-architectonic and functional importance of such asymmetric junctions in normal physiology as well as in diseases, in particular in the formation of distant tumor cell metastasis.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22006253
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  • 6
    Keywords: CELLS ; TUMOR-CELLS ; HEPATOCELLULAR-CARCINOMA ; INTERMEDIATE-SIZED FILAMENTS ; TUMORS ; PROGRESSION ; HEPATOMA-CELLS ; MASS-SPECTROMETRY ; RAT HEPATOCYTES ; LIVER EPITHELIAL-CELLS ; chemical cross-linking ; MEDIATED ADHESION ; MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION
    Abstract: Intercellular junctions play a pivotal role in tissue development and function and also in tumorigenesis. In epithelial cells, decrease or loss of E-cadherin, the hallmark molecule of adherens junctions (AJs), and increase of N-cadherin are widely thought to promote carcinoma progression and metastasis. In this paper, we show that this "cadherin switch" hypothesis does not hold for diverse endoderm-derived cells and cells of tumors derived from them. We show that the cadherins in a major portion of AJs in these cells can be chemically cross-linked in E-N heterodimers. We also show that cells possessing E-N heterodimer AJs can form semistable hemihomotypic AJs with purely N-cadherin-based AJs of mesenchymally derived cells, including stroma cells. We conclude that these heterodimers are the major AJ constituents of several endoderm-derived tissues and tumors and that the prevailing concept of antagonistic roles of these two cadherins in developmental and tumor biology has to be reconsidered.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22105347
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  • 7
    Keywords: EXPRESSION ; TUMOR-CELLS ; INTERMEDIATE-FILAMENTS ; vimentin ; cholesterol ; ELECTRON-MICROSCOPY ; DIFFERENTIATION-RELATED PROTEIN ; PAT-FAMILY ; ADIPOSE CONVERSION ; ADRENAL-CELLS
    Abstract: Lipid droplets (LDs) are spherical accumulations of apolar lipids and other hydrophobic substances and are generally surrounded by a thin cortical layer of specific amphiphilic proteins (APs). These APs segregate the LDs from the mostly polar components of the cytoplasm. We have studied LDs in epithelium-derived cell cultures and in particular characterized proteins from the perilipin (PLIN) gene family - in mammals consisting of the proteins Perilipin, Adipophilin, TIP47, S3-12 and MLDP/OXPAT (PLIN 1-5). Using a large number of newly generated and highly specific mono- and polyclonal antibodies specific for individual APs, and using improved LD isolation methods, we have enriched and characterized APs in greater detail and purity. The majority of lipid-AP complexes could be obtained in the top layer fractions of density gradient centrifugation separations of cultured cells, but APs could also be detected in other fractions within such separations. The differently sized LD complexes were analyzed using various biochemical methods and mass spectrometry as well as immunofluorescence and electron- in particular immunoelectron-microscopy. Moreover, by immunoprecipitation, protein-protein binding assays and by immunoelectron microscopy we identified a direct linkage between LD-binding proteins and the intermediate-sized filaments (IF) cytokeratins 8 and 18 (also designated as keratins K8 and K18). Specifically, in gradient fractions of higher density supposedly containing small LDs, we received as co-precipitations cytidylyl-, palmitoyl- and cholesterol transferases and other specific enzymes involved in lipid metabolism. So far, common proteomic studies have used LDs from top layer fractions only and did not report on these transferases and other enzymes. In addition to findings of short alternating hydrophobic/hydrophilic segments within the PLIN protein family, we propose and discuss a model for the interaction of LD-coating APs with IF proteins.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23704888
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  • 8
    Keywords: CELLS ; EXPRESSION ; PROTEINS ; INTERMEDIATE-FILAMENTS ; cholesterol ; ELECTRON-MICROSCOPY ; Caveolin ; PAT-FAMILY ; ADIPOSE CONVERSION ; SURFACE-LAYER
    Abstract: We report on the heterogeneity and diversity of lipid droplets (LDs) in early stages of adipogenesis by elucidating the cell and molecular biology of amphiphilic and cytoskeletal proteins regulating and stabilizing the generation of LDs in human adipose cells. A plethora of distinct and differently sized LDs was detected by a brief application of adipocyte differentiation medium and additional short treatment with oleic acid. Using these cells and highly specific antibodies for LD-binding proteins of the perilipin (PLIN) family, we could distinguish between endogenously derived LDs (endogenous LDs) positive for perilipin from exogenously induced LDs (exogenous LDs) positive for adipophilin, TIP47 and S3-12. Having optimized these stimulation conditions, we used early adipogenic differentiation stages to investigate small-sized LDs and concentrated on LD-protein associations with the intermediate-sized filament (IF) vimentin. This IF protein was described earlier to surround lipid globules, showing spherical, cage-like structures. Consequently - by biochemical methods, by immunofluorescence microscopy and by electron- and immunoelectron microscopy - various stages of emerging lipid globules were revealed with perilipin as linking protein between LDs and vimentin. For this LD-PLIN-Vimentin connection, a model is now proposed, suggesting an interaction of proteins via opposed charged amino acid domains respectively. In addition, multiple sheaths of smooth endoplasmic reticulum cisternae surrounding concentrically nascent LDs are shown. Based on our comprehensive localization studies we present and discuss a novel pathway for the LD formation.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24587346
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  • 9
    Keywords: DESMOSOMAL PLAQUE PROTEINS ; ADHERENS JUNCTIONS ; N-CADHERIN ; SERTOLI-CELL ; POSTNATAL-DEVELOPMENT ; MALE CONTRACEPTIVE DEVELOPMENT ; RAT TESTIS ; ECTOPLASMIC SPECIALIZATION ; BARRIER DYNAMICS ; CYTOSKELETAL PROTEINS
    Abstract: The seminiferous tubules and the excurrent ducts of the mammalian testis are physiologically separated from the mesenchymal tissues and the blood and lymph system by a special structural barrier to paracellular translocations of molecules and particles: the "blood-testis barrier", formed by junctions connecting Sertoli cells with each other and with spermatogonial cells. In combined biochemical as well as light and electron microscopical studies we systematically determine the molecules located in the adhering junctions of adult mammalian (human, bovine, porcine, murine, i.e., rat and mouse) testis. We show that the seminiferous epithelium does not contain desmosomes, or "desmosome-like" junctions, nor any of the desmosome-specific marker molecules and that the adhering junctions of tubules and ductules are fundamentally different. While the ductules contain classical epithelial cell layers with E-cadherin-based adherens junctions (AJs) and typical desmosomes, the Sertoli cells of the tubules lack desmosomes and "desmosome-like" junctions but are connected by morphologically different forms of AJs. These junctions are based on N-cadherin anchored in cytoplasmic plaques, which in some subforms appear thick and dense but in other subforms contain only scarce and loosely arranged plaque structures formed by alpha- and beta-catenin, proteins p120, p0071 and plakoglobin, together with a member of the striatin family and also, in rodents, the proteins ZO-1 and myozap. These N-cadherin-based AJs also include two novel types of junctions: the "areae adhaerentes", i.e., variously-sized, often very large cell-cell contacts and small sieve-plate-like AJs perforated by cytoplasm-to-cytoplasm channels of 5-7 nm internal diameter ("cribelliform junctions"). We emphasize the unique character of this epithelium that totally lacks major epithelial marker molecules and structures such as keratin filaments and desmosomal elements as well as EpCAM- and PERP-containing junctions. We also discuss the nature, development and possible functions of these junctions.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24907851
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  • 10
    Keywords: RIGHT-VENTRICULAR CARDIOMYOPATHY ; DESMOPLAKIN-CONTAINING JUNCTIONS ; adhering junctions ; INTERCALATED DISC ; HEART-MUSCLE CELLS ; AREA-COMPOSITA ; PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 2A ; ARRHYTHMOGENIC CARDIOMYOPATHY ; CALMODULIN-BINDING PROTEIN ; SODIUM CURRENT DEFICIT
    Abstract: Proteins of the striatin family (striatins 1-4; sizes ranging from 90 to 110 kDa on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) are highly homologous in their amino acid sequences but can differ in their cell-type-specific gene expression patterns and biological functions. In various cell types, we have found one, two or three polypeptides of this evolutionarily old and nearly ubiquitous family of proteins known to serve as scaffold proteins for diverse protein complexes. Light and electron microscopic immunolocalization methods have revealed striatins in mammalian cell-cell adherens junctions (AJs). In simple epithelia, we have localized striatins as constitutive components of the plaques of the subapical zonulae adhaerentes of cells, including intestinal, glandular, ductal and urothelial cells and hepatocytes. Striatins colocalize with E-cadherin or E-N-cadherin heterodimers and with the plaque proteins alpha- and beta-catenin, p120 and p0071. In some epithelia and carcinomas and in cultured cells derived therefrom, striatins are also seen in lateral AJs. In stratified epithelia and in corresponding squamous cell carcinomas, striatins can be found in plaques of some forms of tessellate junctions. Moreover, striatins are major plaque proteins of composite junctions (CJs; areae compositae) in the intercalated disks connecting cardiomyocytes, colocalizing with other CJ molecules, including plectin and ankyrin-G. We discuss the "multimodulator" scaffold roles of striatins in the initiation and regulation of the formation of various complex particles and structures. We propose that striatins are included in the diagnostic candidate list of proteins that, in the CJs of human hearts, can occur in mutated forms in the pathogeneses of hereditary cardiomyopathies, as seen in some types of genetically determined heart damage in boxer dogs.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25501894
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