M-cadherin, a calcium-dependent intercellular adhesion molecule, is expressed in skeletal muscle cells. Its pattern of expression, both in vivo and in cell culture as well as functional studies, have implied that M-cadherin is important for skeletal muscle development, in particular the fusion of myoblasts into myotubes. M-cadherin formed complexes with the catenins in skeletal muscle cells similar to E-cadherin in epithelial cells. This suggested that the muscle-specific function of the M-cadherin catenin complex might be mediated by additional interactions with yet unidentified cellular components, especially cytoskeletal elements. These include the microtubules which also have been implicated in the fusion process of myoblasts. Here we present evidence that the M-cadherin catenin complex interacts with microtubules in myogenic cells by using three independent experimental approaches. (1) Analysis by laser scan microscopy revealed that the destruction of microtubules by nocodazole leads to an altered cell surface distribution of M-cadherin in differentiating myogenic cells. In contrast, disruption of actin filaments had little effect on the surface distribution of M-cadherin. (2) M-cadherin antibodies coimmunoprecipitated tubulin from extracts of nocodazole-treated myogenic cells but not of nocodazole-treated epithelial cells ectopically expressing M-cadherin. Vice versa, tubulin antibodies coimmunoprecipitated M-cadherin from extracts of nocodazole-treated myogenic cells but not of nocodazole-treated M-cadherin-expressing epithelial cells. (3) M-cadherin and the catenins, but not a panel of control proteins, were copolymerized with tubulin from myogenic cell extracts even after repeated cycles of assembly and disassemly of tubulin. Moreover, neither M-cadherin nor E-cadherin could be found in a complex with microtubules in epithelial cells ectopically expressing M-cadherin. Our data are consistent with the idea that the interaction of M-cadherin with microtubules might be essential to keep the myoblasts aligned during fusion, a process in which both M-cadherin and microtubules have been implicated.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists