Microtubule disruption in keratinocytes induces cell-cell adhesion through activation of endogenous E-cadherin

S. H. Kee, P. M. Steinert

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26 Citations (Scopus)


The association of the cytoskeleton with the cadherin-catenin complex is essential for strong cell-cell adhesion in epithelial cells. In this study, we have investigated the effect of microtubule organization on cell-cell adhesion in differentiating keratinocytes. When microtubules of normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) grown in low calcium media (0.05 mM) were disrupted with nocodazole or colcemid, cell-cell adhesion was induced through relocalization of the Ecadherin-catenin-actin complex to the cell periphery. This was accompanied by actin polymerization. Also, it was found that microtubule disruption-induced cell-cell adhesion was significantly reduced in more advanced differentiated keratinocytes. For example, when NHEK cells cultured under high calcium (1.2 mM) for 8 d and then in low calcium for 1 d were treated with nocodazole, there was no induction of cell-cell adhesion. Also long-term treatment of a phorbol ester for 48 h inhibited nocodazole-induced cell-cell adhesion of NHEK. Furthermore, this nocodazole-induced cell-cell adhesion could be observed in squamous cancer cell lines (A431 and SCC-5, -9, and -25) under low calcium condition, but not in the keratinocyte cell lines derived from normal epidermis (HaCaT, RHEK). On the other hand, HaCaT cells continuously cultivated in low calcium media regained a less differentiated phenotype such as decreased expression of cytokeratin 10, and increased K5; these changes were accompanied with inducibility of cell-cell adhesion by nocodazole. Together, our results suggest that microtubule disruption can induce the cell-cell adhesion via activation of endogenous E-cadherin in non- or early differentiating keratinocytes. However, this is no longer possible in advanced terminally differentiating keratinocytes, possibly due to irreversible changes effected by cell envelope barrier formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1983-1993
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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