Adducin is a protein recently purified from erythrocytes and brain that has properties in in vitro assays suggesting a role in assembly of a spectrin-actin lattice. This report describes the localization of adducin to plasma membranes of a variety of tissues and the discovery that adducin is concentrated at sites of cell-cell contact in the epithelial tissues where it is expressed. Adducin in tissues and cultured cells always was observed in association with spectrin and actin, although spectrin and actin were evident in the absence of adducin. In sections of intestinal epithelial cells spectrin was present on all plasma membrane surfaces while adducin was restricted to the lateral cell borders. Adducin also was not detected in association with actin stress fibers in cultured cells. The presence of adducin at cell-cell contact sites of cultured epithelial cells requires extracellular Ca++ and occurs within 15 min of addition of 0.3 mM Ca++. Redistribution of adducin after addition of extracellular Ca++ is independent of formation of desmosomal and adherens junctions since assembly of adducin at contact sites requires lower concentrations of Ca++ and occurs more rapidly than redistribution of desmoplakin or vinculin. Treatment of keratinocytes and MDCK cells with nanomolar concentrations of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) induces redistribution of adducin away from contact sites. The effect of TPA may be a direct consequence of phosphorylation of adducin, since adducin is phosphorylated in TPA-treated cells and the phosphorylation of adducin occurs before disassembly of adducin from sites of cell-cell contact. Spectrin and adducin are both present in a detergent-insoluble form at cell-cell contact sites of cultured cells. These observations are consistent with the idea that adducin recognizes and associates with specific "receptors" localized at regions of cell-cell contact and promotes assembly of spectrin into a more stable structure, perhaps analogous to the highly organized spectrin-actin network of erythrocyte membranes.

This content is only available as a PDF.