Background: Nectins are Ca2+-independent immunoglobulin-like cell-cell adhesion molecules which associate with cadherins to form adherens junctions (AJs) in epithelial cells and fibroblasts. Nectin-1 and -3 are members of the nectin family which most strongly trans-interact, causing cell-cell adhesion. The trans-interaction between nectin-1 and -3 induces the activation of both Cdc42 and Rac small G proteins in epithelial cells. We studied the roles of Cdc42 and Rac activated in this way in L fibroblasts stably expressing both nectin-1 and E-cadherin (nectin-1-EL cells).
Results: The trans-interaction between nectin-1 and -3 induced the activation of Cdc42 and Rac in nectin-1-EL cells. Cdc42, and presumably Rac, activated in this way, induced the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), but not p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase or extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). Cdc42 or Rac was not essential for the association of nectin-1 and E-cadherin to form AJs. Reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton was not required for the association of nectin-1 and E-cadherin.
Conclusion: These results indicate that Cdc42 and Rac activated by the trans-interaction of nectins selectively induce the activation of JNK, but are not essential for the association of nectins and cadherin to form AJs in fibroblasts.