The establishment and maintenance of epithelial polarity are crucial for tissue organization and function in mammals. Epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin) is expressed in epithelial cell membrane and is important for cell-cell adhesion, intercellular junctions formation, as well as epithelial cell polarization. We report herein that CAS (CAS/CSE 1), the human cellular apoptosis susceptibility protein, interacts with E-cadherin and stimulates polarization of HT-29 human colon epithelial cells. CAS binds with E-cadherin but not with beta-catenin in the immunoprecipitation assays. Interaction of CAS with E-cadherin enhances the formation of E-cadherin/beta-catenin cell-cell adhesive complex. Electron microscopic study demonstrated that CAS overexpression in cells stimulates intercellular junction complex formation. The disorganization of cellular cytoskeleton by cytochalasin D, colchicine, or acrylamide treatment disrupts CAS-stimulated HT-29 cell polarization. CAS-mediated HT-29 cell polarity is also inhibited by antisense E-cadherin DNA expression. Our results indicate that CAS cooperates with E-cadherin and plays a role in the establishment of epithelial cell polarity.
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