The dynamic rearrangement of cell-cell junctions such as tight junctions and adherens junctions is a critical step in various cellular processes, including establishment of epithelial cell polarity and developmental patterning. Tight junctions are mediated by molecules such as occludin and its associated ZO-1 and ZO-2, and adherens junctions are mediated by adhesion molecules such as cadherin and its associated catenins. The transformation of epithelial cells by activated Ras results in the perturbation of cell-cell contacts. We previously identified the ALL-1 fusion partner from chromosome 6 (AF-6) as a Ras target. AF-6 has the PDZ domain, which is thought to localize AF-6 at the specialized sites of plasma membranes such as cell-cell contact sites. We investigated roles of Ras and AF-6 in the regulation of cell-cell contacts and found that AF-6 accumulated at the cell-cell contact sites of polarized MDCKII epithelial cells and had a distribution similar to that of ZO-1 but somewhat different from those of catenins. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed a close association between AF-6 and ZO-1 at the tight junctions of MDCKII cells. Native and recombinant AF-6 interacted with ZO-1 in vitro. ZO- 1 interacted with the Ras-binding domain of AF-6, and this interaction was inhibited by activated Ras. AF-6 accumulated with ZO-1 at the cell-cell contact sites in cells lacking tight junctions such as Rat1 fibroblasts and PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells. The overexpression of activated Ras in Rat1 cells resulted in the perturbation of cell-cell contacts, followed by a decrease of the accumulation of AF-6 and ZO-1 at the cell surface. These results indicate that AF-6 serves as one of the peripheral components of tight junctions in epithelial cells and cell-cell adhesions in nonepithelial cells, and that AF-6 may participate in the regulation of cell-cell contacts, including tight junctions, via direct interaction with ZO-1 downstream of Ras.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology