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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

E-cadherin is the major mediator of human melanocyte adhesion to keratinocytes in vitro.

E- and P-cadherin are calcium (Ca2+)-dependent cell adhesion molecules important in the morphogenesis and maintenance of skin structure. By use of flow cytometry and specific antibodies, we now show that cultured human melanocytes express E- and P-cadherin on their surfaces, and that these molecules have the same characteristics as reported for other cell types. Specifically, melanocyte cadherins are sensitive to trypsin digestion in the absence of Ca2+ and are protected from trypsin degradation by Ca2+, and are functional at 37 degrees C but not at 4 degrees C. We further show that melanocytes contain mRNA transcripts encoding both E- and P-cadherin. Adhesion of cultured melanocytes to keratinocyte monolayers is abolished by pre-treatment of the melanocytes with trypsin/EDTA, which degrades E- and P-cadherins, is greatly reduced by anti-E-cadherin antibodies and is slightly reduced by antibodies to P-cadherin, alpha 2, alpha 3 and beta 1 integrins. In contrast to normal melanocytes, eight of nine melanoma cell lines lacked E-cadherin (or expressed markedly reduced levels) and five were negative for P-cadherin. Melanoma cells also failed to adhere to keratinocyte monolayers. These results demonstrate that normal human melanocytes express functional E- and P-cadherin and that E-cadherin is primarily responsible for adhesion of human melanocytes to keratinocytes in vitro. In addition, transformed melanocytes express markedly reduced levels of E- and P-cadherin, and exhibit decreased affinity for normal keratinocytes in vitro, suggesting that loss of cadherins may play a role in melanoma metastasis.[1]


  1. E-cadherin is the major mediator of human melanocyte adhesion to keratinocytes in vitro. Tang, A., Eller, M.S., Hara, M., Yaar, M., Hirohashi, S., Gilchrest, B.A. J. Cell. Sci. (1994) [Pubmed]
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