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1.  Desmosome Disassembly in Response to Pemphigus Vulgaris IgG Occurs in Distinct Phases and can be Reversed by Expression of Exogenous Dsg3 
Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is an epidermal blistering disorder caused by antibodies directed against the desmosomal cadherin desmoglein-3 (Dsg3). The mechanism by which PV IgG disrupt adhesion is not fully understood. To address this issue, primary human keratinocytes and patient IgG were utilized to define the morphological, biochemical and functional changes triggered by PV IgG. Three phases of desmosome disassembly were distinguished. Analysis of fixed and living keratinocytes demonstrated that PV IgG cause rapid Dsg3 internalization which likely originates from a non-junctional pool of Dsg3. Subsequently, Dsg3 and other desmosomal components rearrange into linear arrays that run perpendicular to cell contacts. Dsg3 complexes localized at the cell surface are transported in a retrograde fashion along these arrays before being released into cytoplasmic vesicular compartments. These changes in Dsg3 distribution are followed by depletion of detergent insoluble Dsg3 pools and by the loss of cell adhesion strength. Importantly, this process of disassembly can be prevented by expressing exogenous Dsg3, thereby driving Dsg3 biosynthesis and desmosome assembly. These data support a model in which PV IgG cause the loss of cell adhesion by altering the dynamics of Dsg3 assembly into desmosomes and the turnover of cell surface pools of Dsg3 through endocytic pathways.
PMCID: PMC3235416  PMID: 21160493
2.  Regulation of Cadherin Trafficking 
Traffic (Copenhagen, Denmark)  2008;10(3):259-267.
Cadherins are a large family of cell-cell adhesion molecules that tether cytoskeletal networks of actin and intermediate filaments to the plasma membrane. This function of cadherins promotes tissue organization and integrity, as demonstrated by numerous disease states that are characterized by the loss of cadherin-based adhesion. However, plasticity in cell adhesion is often required in cellular processes such as tissue patterning during development and epithelial migration during wound healing. Recent work has revealed a pivotal role for various membrane trafficking pathways in regulating cellular transitions between quiescent adhesive states and more dynamic phenotypes. The regulation of cadherins by membrane trafficking is emerging as a key player in this balancing act and studies are beginning to reveal how this process goes awry in the context of disease. This review summarizes the current understanding of how cadherins are routed and how the interface between cadherins and membrane trafficking pathways regulates cell surface adhesive potential. Particular emphasis is placed on the regulation of cadherin trafficking by catenins and the interplay between growth factor signaling pathways and cadherin endocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2905039  PMID: 19055694
Endocytosis; adherens junctions; desmosomes; cell-cell adhesion; pemphigus vulgaris; Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition; catenin; growth factors
3.  The Desmosome 
Desmosomes are intercellular junctions that tether intermediate filaments to the plasma membrane. Desmogleins and desmocollins, members of the cadherin superfamily, mediate adhesion at desmosomes. Cytoplasmic components of the desmosome associate with the desmosomal cadherin tails through a series of protein interactions, which serve to recruit intermediate filaments to sites of desmosome assembly. These desmosomal plaque components include plakoglobin and the plakophilins, members of the armadillo gene family. Linkage to the cytoskeleton is mediated by the intermediate filament binding protein, desmoplakin, which associates with both plakoglobin and plakophilins. Although desmosomes are critical for maintaining stable cell–cell adhesion, emerging evidence indicates that they are also dynamic structures that contribute to cellular processes beyond that of cell adhesion. This article outlines the structure and function of the major desmosomal proteins, and explores the contributions of this protein complex to tissue architecture and morphogenesis.
Desmosomal proteins link neighboring cells and are anchored to intermediate filaments. They are essential for stable adhesion and play important roles in morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2742091  PMID: 20066089

Results 1-3 (3)