Dimeric states of neural- and epithelial-cadherins are distinguished by the rate of disassembly

Nagamani Vunnam, Jon Flint, Andrea Balbo, Peter Schuck, Susan Pedigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Epithelial- and neural-cadherins are specifically localized at synapses in neurons which can change the shape and contact surface on a time scale of seconds to months. We have focused our studies on the role of the extracellular domains of cadherins in the dynamics of synapses. The kinetics of dimer disassembly of the first two extracellular domains of E- and N-cadherin, ECAD12 and NCAD12, were studied with analytical size exclusion chromatography and sedimentation velocity. NCAD12 forms three different dimers that are distinguished by assembly conditions and kinetics of dissociation. ECAD12 dimer disassembles rapidly regardless of the calcium concentration, whereas the disassembly of NCAD12 dimers was strongly dependent on calcium concentration. In addition to the apo- and saturated-dimeric forms of NCAD12, there is a third dimeric form that is a slow exchange dimer. This third dimeric form for NCAD12, formed by decalcification of the calcium-saturated dimer, was kinetically trapped in apo-conditions and did not disassemble over a period of months. Sedimentation velocity experiments showed that this dimer, upon addition of calcium, had similar weighted averages as a calcium-saturated dimer. These studies provide evidence that the kinetics of dimer disassembly of the extracellular domains may be a major contributor to the morphological dynamics of synapses in vivo.(Figure Presented)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2951-2961
Number of pages11
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 12 2011


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