Two human epithelial cell lines, trophoblastic teratocarcinoma HT-H and endometrial adenocarcinoma SNG-M cells, adhere to each other at their respective apical cell surfaces in a divalent cation-independent manner. Two novel molecules responsible for the adhesion between these two cell types were identified by expression cDNA cloning. One, named trophinin, is an intrinsic membrane protein and mediates homophilic self-binding. Another, named tastin, is a cytoplasmic protein and is necessary for trophinin to function as a cell adhesion molecule. Trophinin and tastin appear to be associated with the cytoskeleton in HT-H and SNG-M cells. These molecules are normally not expressed in various types of human cells in tissues, with the exception of macrophages. Strong expression of these molecules was detected in the trophectoderm surface of monkey blastocyst. These molecules are also expressed in human endometrial surface epithelium on day 16/17 at the early secretory phase of human endometrium, the time consistent with that expected for the "implantation window."
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