Desmosomes are cell junctions that act as sites of strong intercellular adhesion and also serve to anchor the intermediate filament (IF) cytoskeleton to the plasma membrane of a variety of cell types. Previous studies demonstrated that the COOH terminus of the desmosomal plaque protein, desmoplakin (DP), is required for the association of DP with IF networks in cultured cells and that this domain interacts directly with type II epidermal keratin polypeptides in vitro. However, these studies left open the question of how desmosomes might anchor other IF types known to associate with these junctions. In this report we used yeast two-hybrid and in vitro dot blot assays to further examine the requirements for direct interactions between desmoplakin and various IF types. Our results confirm the ability of the DP COOH terminus (DPCT) to interact with at least two regions of the head domain of the type II epidermal keratin K1 and also demonstrate that DPCT can interact with the type III IF family members, vimentin and desmin, as well as simple epithelial keratins. Unlike the situation for type II epidermal keratins, the interaction between DPCT and simple epithelial keratins appears to depend on heterodimerization of the type I and II keratin polypeptides, since both are required to detect an interaction. Furthermore, although the interaction between DPCT and K1 requires the keratin head domain, deletion of this domain from the simple epithelial keratins does not compromise interaction with DPCT. The interaction between DPCT and type III or simple epithelial keratins also appeared to be less robust than that between DPCT and K1. In the case of K8/K18, however, the interaction as assessed by yeast two-hybrid assays increased 9-fold when a serine located in a protein kinase A consensus phosphorylation site 23 residues from the end of DP was altered to a glycine. Taken together, these data indicate that DP interacts directly with different IF types in specific ways.
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