Insulin Signaling via Akt2 Switches Plakophilin 1 Function From Stabilizing Cell Adhesion to Promoting Cell Proliferation

Wolf et al., J. Cell Sci. (2013) - PMID: 23444369

Product(s) used in this publication: Single Kinase Substrate Peptides


Downregulation of adherens junction proteins is a frequent event in carcinogenesis. How desmosomal proteins contribute to tumor formation by regulating the balance between adhesion and proliferation is not well understood. The desmosomal protein plakophilin 1 can increase intercellular adhesion by recruiting desmosomal proteins to the plasma membrane or stimulate proliferation by enhancing translation rates. Here, we show that these dual functions of plakophilin 1 are regulated by growth factor signaling. Insulin stimulation induced the phosphorylation of plakophilin 1, which correlated with reduced intercellular adhesion and an increased activity of plakophilin 1 in the stimulation of translation. Phosphorylation was mediated by Akt2 at four motifs within the plakophilin 1 N-terminal domain. A plakophilin 1 phospho-mimetic mutant revealed reduced intercellular adhesion and accumulated in the cytoplasm, where it increased translation and proliferation rates and conferred the capacity of anchorage-independent growth. The cytoplasmic accumulation was mediated by the stabilization of phosphorylated plakophilin 1, which displayed a considerably increased half-life, whereas non-phosphorylated plakophilin 1 was more rapidly degraded. Our data indicate that upon activation of growth factor signaling, plakophilin 1 switches from a desmosome-associated growth-inhibiting to a cytoplasmic proliferation-promoting function. This supports the view that the deregulation of plakophilin 1, as observed in several tumors, directly contributes to hyperproliferation and carcinogenesis in a context-dependent manner.


Akt; Insulin signaling; Intercellular adhesion; Phosphorylation; Plakophilin

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