The presence of alpha-catenin in the VE-cadherin complex is required for efficient transendothelial migration of leukocytes

Int J Biol Sci. 2009 Nov 9;5(7):695-705. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.5.695.


The majority of the leukocytes cross the endothelial lining of the vessels through cell-cell junctions. The junctional protein Vascular Endothelial (VE)-cadherin is transiently re-distributed from sites of cell-cell contacts during passage of leukocytes. VE-cadherin is part of a protein complex comprising p120-catenin and beta-catenin as intracellular partners. Beta-catenin connects VE-cadherin to alpha-catenin. This VE-cadherin-catenin complex is believed to dynamically control endothelial cell-cell junctions and to regulate the passage of leukocytes, although not much is known about the role of alpha- and beta-catenin during the process of transendothelial migration (TEM). In order to study the importance of the interaction between alpha- and beta-catenin in TEM, we used a cell-permeable version of the peptide encoding the binding site of alpha-catenin for beta-catenin (S27D). The data show that S27D interferes with the interaction between alpha- and beta-catenin and induces a reversible decrease in electrical resistance of the endothelial monolayer. In addition, S27D co-localized with beta-catenin at cell-cell junctions. Surprisingly, transmigration of neutrophils across endothelial monolayers was blocked in the presence of S27D. In conclusion, our results show for the first time that the association of alpha-catenin with the cadherin-catenin complex is required for efficient leukocyte TEM.

Keywords: Transendothelial migration; VE-cadherin; catenin; cell-cell junction; permeability..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Binding Sites
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electric Impedance
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Umbilical Cord
  • alpha Catenin / metabolism*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Antigens, CD
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Peptides
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • cadherin 5