E-cadherin phosphorylation occurs during its biosynthesis to promote its cell surface stability and adhesion

Abbye E. McEwen, Meghan T. Maher, Rigen Mo, Cara J. Gottardi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


E-cadherin is highly phosphorylated within its β-catenin-binding region, and this phosphorylation increases its affinity for β-catenin in vitro. However, the identification of key serines responsible for most cadherin phosphorylation and the adhesive consequences of modification at such serines have remained unknown. In this study, we show that as few as three serines in the β-catenin-binding domain of E-cadherin are responsible for most radioactive phosphate incorporation. These serines are required for binding to β-catenin and the mutual stability of both E-cadherin and β-catenin. Cells expressing a phosphodeficient (3S>A) E-cadherin exhibit minimal cell-cell adhesion due to enhanced endocytosis and degradation through a lysosomal compartment. Conversely, negative charge substitution at these serines (3S>D) antagonizes cadherin endocytosis and restores wild-type levels of adhesion. The cadherin kinase is membrane proximal and modifies the cadherin before it reaches the cell surface. Together these data suggest that E-cadherin phosphorylation is largely constitutive and integral to cadherin-catenin complex formation, surface stability, and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2365-2374
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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