Stability studies of extracellular domain two of neural-cadherin

Nagamani Vunnam, John K. McCool, Michael Williamson, Susan Pedigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Neural- (NCAD) and epithelial- (ECAD) cadherin are calcium-dependent cell-adhesive molecules, and are localized at excitatory and inhibitory synapses respectively. They play an important role in synaptogenesis, synapse maintenance and plasticity. The extracellular region plays a critical role in cadherin-mediated cell adhesion, and has five tandemly repeated ectodomains (EC1-EC5). Calcium binding is required for dimer formation between first two N-terminal domains (EC1-EC2). Despite similarity in the primary structure, the extracellular domains of NCAD and ECAD have different intrinsic stability, dimerization affinity and kinetics of disassembly. To investigate the origin of these differences, we are characterizing the modular domains individually. Here, we report studies of NCAD2, EC2 of NCAD. This domain is important for calcium binding and is the physical linkage between the dimerization interface in EC1 and the membrane proximal modular domains. Thermal-denaturation studies show that NCAD2 is less stable than ECAD2 and less influenced by the adjoining 7-residue, N- and C-terminal linker segments. In addition the NCAD2 constructs are less influenced by added salt. This difference is likely due to variation in the overall number and distribution of charges on these anionic proteins. Our studies indicate that despite their sequence similarity and apparently passive role in adhesive dimer formation, EC2 of E- and N-cadherins are distinctly different and may contribute to the differences in energetics and kinetics of dimerization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1845
Number of pages5
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Proteins and Proteomics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by MCB 0950494 from the National Science Foundation.


  • Circular dichroism
  • Electrostatic repulsion
  • Thermal denaturation

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