Intercellular adherens junctions between cultured lens epithelial cells are highly Ca2+-dependent and are readily dissociated upon chelation of extracellular Ca2+ ions. Addition of Ca2+ to EGTA-treated cells results in the recovery of cell-cell junctions including the reorganization of adherens junction-specific cell adhesion molecule (A-CAM), vinculin, and actin (Volk, T., and B. Geiger, 1986, J. Cell Biol., 103:000-000). Incubation of cells during the recovery phase with Fab' fragments of anti-A-CAM specifically inhibited the re-formation of cell-cell adherens junctions. This inhibition was accompanied by remarkable changes in microfilament organization manifested by an apparent deterioration of stress fibers and the appearance of fragmented actin bundles throughout the cytoplasm. Incubation of EGTA-dissociated cells with intact divalent anti-A-CAM antibodies in normal medium had no apparent inhibitory effect on junction formation and did not affect the assembly of actin microfilament bundles. Moreover, adherens junctions formed in the presence of the divalent antibodies became essentially Ca2+-independent, suggesting that cell-cell adhesion between them was primarily mediated by the antibodies. These studies suggest that A-CAM participates in intercellular adhesion in adherens-type junctions and point to its involvement in microfilament bundle assembly.

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