We describe here the subcellular distributions of three junctional proteins in different adherens-type contacts. The proteins examined include vinculin, talin, and a recently described 135-kD protein (Volk, T., and B. Geiger, 1984, EMBO (Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.) J., 10:2249-2260). Immunofluorescent localization of the three proteins indicated that while vinculin was ubiquitously present in all adherens junctions, the other two showed selective and mutually exclusive association with either cell-substrate or cell-cell adhesions. Talin was abundant in focal contacts and in dense plaques of smooth muscle, but was essentially absent from intercellular junctions such as intercalated disks or adherens junctions of lens fibers. The 135-kD protein, on the other hand, was present in the latter two loci and was apparently absent from membrane-bound plaques of gizzard or from focal contacts. Radioimmunoassay of tissue extracts and immunolabeling of cultured chick lens cells indicated that the selective presence of talin and of the 135-kD protein in different cell contacts is spatially regulated within individual cells. On the basis of these findings it was concluded that adherens junctions are molecularly heterogeneous and consist of at least two major subgroups. Contacts with noncellular substrates contain talin and vinculin but not the 135-kD protein, whereas their intercellular counterparts contain the latter two proteins and are devoid of talin. The significance of these results and their possible relationships to contact-induced regulation of cell behavior are discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.