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Catenins mediate the linkage of classical cadherins with actin microfilaments and are part of a higher order protein structure by which cadherins are connected to other cytoplasmic and transmembrane proteins. The ratio of actin-bound to free cadherin-catenin complex, which varies depending on the type and growth rate of cells, is thought to be altered by cellular signals, such as those associated with mitosis, polarization of cells and growth factors during development. EGF induces an immediate tyrosine phosphorylation of beta-catenin and gamma-catenin (plakoglobin). We show here an association of the EGF- receptor with the cadherin-catenin complex. Using recombinant proteins we demonstrate the interaction of EGF-receptor and beta-catenin in in vitro kinase assays. This interaction is mediated by the evolutionarily conserved central "core" region of beta-catenin. These results suggest that catenins represent an important link between EGF-induced signal transduction and cadherin function.