P-cadherin is a subclass of Ca2+-dependent cell-cell adhesion molecules present in mouse placenta, where its localization suggests a function of connecting the embryo to the uterus (Nose, A., and M. Takeichi. 1986. J. Cell Biol. 103:2649-2658). We recently identified a human cadherin detected by an mAb capable of disrupting cell-cell adhesion of A-431 cells, and found that it was closely related immunochemically to mouse P-cadherin. Curiously, this cadherin was undetectable in human placenta by immunohistochemical examination (Shimoyama, Y., S. Hirohashi, S. Hirano, M. Noguchi, Y. Shimosato, M. Takeichi, and O. Abe. 1989. Cancer Res. 49:2128-2133). We here report the cloning and sequencing of cDNA clone encoding the human homologue of mouse P-cadherin. The deduced amino acid sequence of the human P-cadherin consists of 829 amino acid and shows striking homology with mouse P-cadherin. On Northern blot analysis, human P-cadherin was scarcely expressed in human placenta in contrast to mouse P-cadherin, which was abundantly expressed in mouse placenta throughout pregnancy, and it was shown that E-cadherin, but not P-cadherin, was the major cadherin molecule in human placenta. Moreover, NIH3T3 cells transfected with human P-cadherin cDNA expressed the functional cadherin molecule, which was identical to the cadherin we had previously identified using the mAb, showing that this molecule really does mediate cell-cell adhesion and that the cadherin we detected immunochemically is undoubtedly human P-cadherin. The results obtained in this study support the idea that P-cadherin plays little role, if any, in Ca2+-dependent cell-cell binding in human placental tissue at least after several weeks of pregnancy.

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