Embryonic chick neural retina cells have at their surface an N-Acetylgalactosaminylphosphotransferase (GalNAcPTase) which is associated with, and glycosylates, the calcium-dependent cell-cell adhesion molecule, N-cadherin (Balsamo, J., and J. Lilien. 1990. J. Biol. Chem. 265:2923-2928). In this manuscript, we demonstrate that antibodies directed against the GalNAcPTase, as well as anti-N-cadherin antibodies, are able to inhibit adhesion of chick neural retina cells to a cell monolayer, to immobilized N-cadherin, or to immobilized anti-N-cadherin antibody. These results indicate that anti-GalNAcPTase antibodies modulate the function of N-cadherin, interfering with the formation of N-cadherin-mediated adhesions. We also demonstrate that actin is associated with the N-cadherin/GalNAcPTase complex and that binding of anti-GalNAcPTase antibodies to intact cells results in dissociation of actin from the complex. We suggest that the GalNAcPTase modulates N-cadherin function by altering its interaction with the cytoskeleton.

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