The regulatory or phosphorylation domain of p120 catenin controls E-cadherin dynamics at the plasma membrane

Exp Cell Res. 2008 Jan 1;314(1):52-67. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2007.07.024. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


In contrast to growth factor-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of p120, its relatively constitutive serine/threonine phosphorylation is not well understood. Here we examined the role of serine/threonine phosphorylation of p120 in cadherin function. Expression of cadherins in cadherin-null cells converted them to an epithelial phenotype, induced p120 phosphorylation and localized it to sites of cell contact. Detergent solubility and immunofluorescence confirmed that phosphorylated p120 was at the plasma membrane. E-cadherin constructs incapable of traveling to the plasma membrane did not induce serine/threonine phosphorylation of p120, nor did cadherins constructs incapable of binding p120. However, an E-cadherin cytoplasmic domain construct artificially targeted to the plasma membrane did induce serine/threonine phosphorylation of p120, suggesting phosphorylation occurs independently of signals from cadherin dimerization and trafficking through the ER/Golgi. Solubility assays following calcium switch showed that p120 isoform 3A was more effective at stabilizing E-cadherin at the plasma membrane relative to isoform 4A. Since the major phosphorylation domain of p120 is included in isoform 3A but not 4A, we tested p120 mutated in the known phosphorylation sites in this domain and found that it was even less effective at stabilizing E-cadherin. These data suggest that serine/threonine phosphorylation of p120 influences the dynamics of E-cadherin in junctions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites / physiology
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / chemistry
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Dimerization
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / chemistry
  • Intercellular Junctions / genetics
  • Intercellular Junctions / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Phosphoproteins / chemistry
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Solubility
  • Threonine / metabolism


  • Cadherins
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • delta catenin
  • Threonine
  • Serine