Assembly of desmosomal cadherins into desmosomes is isoform dependent

Ken Ishii, Suzanne M. Norvell, Leslie J. Bannon, Evangeline V. Amargo, Lauren T. Pascoe, Kathleen J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Desmosomes are intercellular adhesive junctions that exhibit cell- and differentiation-specific differences in their molecular composition. In complex epithelia, desmosomes contain multiple representatives of the desmosomal cadherin family, which includes three desmogleins and three desmocollins. Rules governing the assembly of desmosomal cadherin isoforms into desmosomes of different cell types are unknown. Here we compared the assembly properties of desmoglein 2 (Dsg2) and desmocollin 2 (Dsc2), which are widely expressed, with Dsg1 and Dsc1, which are expressed in the differentiated layers of complex epithelia, by introducing myc-tagged forms into simple and squamous epithelial cells that do not express Dsg1 or Dsc1. Dsc2.myc and Dsg2.myc assembled efficiently into desmosomes in every cell type in spite of significant shifts in the stoichiometric relationship between desmogleins and desmocollins. In contrast, Dsc1a.myc, Dsc1b.myc, and Dsg1.myc did not stably incorporate into desmosomes in any line. Coexpression of Dsc1a.myc or Dsc1b.myc and Dsg1.myc did not lead to their colocalization and failed to enhance incorporation of either cadherin into desmosomes. Dsg1.myc, but not Dsc1a, Dsc1b, disrupted desmosome assembly in a cell-type-specific manner, and disruption correlated with the recruitment of Dsg1.myc, but not Dsc1a or Dsc1b, into a Triton-insoluble pool. The plakoglobin:E-cadherin ratio decreased in Dsg1-expressing cells with disrupted desmosomes, but a decrease was also observed in a Dsc1a line. Thus, a modest reduction of plakoglobin associated with E-cadherin is apparently not sufficient to disrupt desmosome assembly. Our results demonstrate that desmosome assembly tolerates large shifts in cadherin stoichiometry, but is sensitive to isoform-specific differences exhibited by desmogleins and desmocollins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2001


  • Desmocollin
  • Desmoglein
  • Desmosome
  • Epithelial cell
  • Intermediate filament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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