NHERF links the N-cadherin/catenin complex to the platelet-derived growth factor receptor to modulate the actin cytoskeleton and regulate cell motility

Christopher S. Theisen, James K. Wahl, Keith R. Johnson, Margaret J. Wheelock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


Using phage display, we identified Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor (NHERF)-2 as a novel binding partner for the cadherin-associated protein, β-catenin. We showed that the second of two PSD-95/Dlg/ZO-1 (PDZ) domains of NHERF interacts with a PDZ-binding motif at the very carboxy terminus of β-catenin. N-cadherin expression has been shown to induce motility in a number of cell types. The first PDZ domain of NHERF is known to bind platelet-derived growth factor-receptor β (PDGF-Rβ), and the interaction of PDGF-Rβ with NHERF leads to enhanced cell spreading and motility. Here we show that β-catenin and N-cadherin are in a complex with NHERF and PDGF-Rβ at membrane ruffles in the highly invasive fibrosarcoma cell line HT1080. Using a stable short hairpin RNA system, we showed that HT1080 cells knocked down for either N-cadherin or NHERF had impaired ability to migrate into the wounded area in a scratch assay, similar to cells treated with a PDGF-R kinase inhibitor. Cells expressing a mutant NHERF that is unable to associate with β-catenin had increased stress fibers, reduced lamellipodia, and impaired cell migration. Using HeLa cells, which express little to no PDGF-R, we introduced PDGF-Rβ and showed that it coimmunoprecipitates with N-cadherin and that PDGF-dependent cell migration was reduced in these cells when we knocked-down expression of N-cadherin or NHERF. These studies implicate N-cadherin and β-catenin in cell migration via PDGF-R-mediated signaling through the scaffolding molecule NHERF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1220-1232
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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