Cadherins and catenins play an important role in cell-cell adhesion. Two of the catenins, beta and gamma, are members of a group of proteins that contains a repeating amino acid motif originally described for the Drosophila segment polarity gene armadillo. Another member of this group is a 120-kD protein termed p120, originally identified as a substrate of the tyrosine kinase pp60src. In this paper, we show that endothelial and epithelial cells express p120 and p100, a 100-kD, p120-related protein. Peptide sequencing of p100 establishes it as highly related to p120. p120 and p100 both appear associated with the cadherin/catenin complex, but independent p120/catenin and p100/catenin complexes can be isolated. This association is shown by coimmunoprecipitation of cadherins and catenins with an anti-p120/p100 antibody, and of p120/p100 with cadherin or catenin antibodies. Immunocytochemical analysis with a p120-specific antibody reveals junctional colocalization of p120 and beta-catenin in epithelial cells. Catenins and p120/p100 also colocalize in endothelial and epithelial cells in culture and in tissue sections. The cellular content of p120/p100 and beta-catenin is similar in MDCK cells, but only approximately 20% of the p120/p100 pool associates with the cadherin/catenin complex. Our data provide further evidence for interactions among the different arm proteins and suggest that p120/p100 may participate in regulating the function of cadherins and, thereby, other processes influenced by cell-cell adhesion.

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