We present the first evidence that adhesion mediated by a member of the cadherin gene family can be regulated by a G protein-coupled receptor. We show that activating the M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) rapidly induces E-cadherin-mediated adhesion in a small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) cell line. This response is inhibited by E-cadherin antibodies, and does not occur in another SCLC cell line which expresses functional mAChR but reduced levels of E-cadherin. Protein kinase C may be involved, since phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate also induces E-cadherin-mediated aggregation. Immunofluorescence analyses indicate that mAChR activation does not grossly alter E-cadherin surface expression or localization at areas of cell-cell contact, suggesting mAChR activation may increase E-cadherin binding activity. Our findings suggest that G protein-coupled receptors may regulate processes involving cadherin-mediated adhesion, such as embryonic development, neurogenesis, and cancer metastasis.

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