We have identified a protein named pinin that is associated with the mature desmosomes of the epithelia (Ouyang, P., and S.P. Sugrue. 1992. J. Cell Biol. 118:1477-1488). We suggest that the function of pinin is to pin intermediate filaments to the desmosome. Therefore, pinin may play a significant role in reinforcing the intermediate filament-desmosome complex. cDNA clones coding for pinin were identified, using degenerative oligonucleotide probes that were based on the internal amino acid sequence of pinin for the screening of a cDNA library. Immunoblotting of expressed recombinant proteins with the monoclonal 08L antibody localized the 08L epitope to the carboxyl end of the protein. Polyclonal antibodies directed against fusion proteins immunoidentified the 140-kD protein in tissue extracts. Immunofluorescence analysis, using the antifusion protein antibody, demonstrated pinin at lateral epithelial boundaries, which is consistent with desmosomal localization. The conceptual translation product of the cDNA clones contained three unique domains: (a) a serine-rich domain; (b) a glutamine-proline, glutamine-leucine repeat domain; and (c) an acidic domain rich in glutamic acid. Although the 3' end of the open reading frame of the clone for pinin showed near identity to a partial cDNA isolated for a pig neutrophil phosphoprotein (Bellavite, P., F. Bazzoni, et al. 1990. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 170:915-922), the remaining sequence demonstrated little homology to known protein sequences. Northern blots of mRNA from chicken corneal epithelium, MDCK cells, and various human tissues indicated that pinin messages exhibit tissue-specific variation in size, ranging from 3.2 to 4.1 kb. Genomic Southern blots revealed the existence of one gene for pinin, suggesting alternative splicing of the mRNA. Expression of the full-length cDNA clones in human 293 cells and monkey COS-7 cells demonstrated that a 140-kD immunoreactive species on Western blots corresponded to pinin. Pinin cDNA transfected into the transformed 293 cells resulted in enhanced cell-cell adhesion. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that the expressed pinin protein was assembled to the lateral boundaries of the cells in contact, which is consistent with the staining pattern of pinin in epithelial cells.

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