DISTINCT ACTIN-DEPENDENT NANOSCALE ASSEMBLIES UNDERLIE THE DYNAMIC AND HIERARCHICAL ORGANIZATION OF E-CADHERIN
SUMMARYIntercellular adhesion mediated by E-cadherin is pivotal in maintaining epithelial tissue integrity and for tissue morphogenesis. Adhesion requires homophilic interactions between extracellular domains of E-cadherin molecules from neighboring cells. The interaction of its cytoplasmic domains with the cortical acto-myosin network, appears to strengthen adhesion, although, it is unclear how cortical actin affects the organization and function of E-cadherin dynamically. Here we use the
... ere we use the ectopic expression of Drosophila E-cadherin (E-cad) in larval hemocytes, which lack endogenous E-cad, to recapitulate functional cell-cell junctions in a convenient model system. We used fluorescence emission anisotropy-based microscopy and Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) to probe the nanoscale organization of E-cad. We find that E-cad at cell-cell junctions in hemocytes exhibits a clustered trans-paired organization, similar to that reported for the adherens junction in the developing embryonic epithelial tissue. Further, we find that extra-junctional E-cad is also organized as relatively immobile nanoclusters as well as diffusive and more loosely packed oligomers and monomers. These oligomers are promoted by cis-interactions of the ectodomain and, strikingly, their growth is constantly counteracted by cortical actomyosin. Oligomers in turn assist in generating nanoclusters that are stabilized by cortical acto-myosin. Thus, actin remodels oligomers and stabilizes nanoclusters, revealing a requirement for actin in the dynamic organization of E-cad at the nanoscale. This dynamic organization is also present at cell-cell contacts (junction), and its disruption affects junctional integrity in the hemocyte system, as well as in the embryo. Our observations uncover a hierarchical mechanism for the nanoscale organization of E-cad, which is necessary for dynamic adhesion and maintaining junctional integrity in the face of extensive remodeling.