Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common inherited human renal disease and is caused by mutations in two genes, PKD1 (85%) and PKD2 (15%). Cyst epithelial cells are characterised by a complex cellular phenotype including changes in proliferation, apoptosis, basement membrane composition and apicobasal polarity. Since polycystin 1 (PC1), the PKD1 protein, has been located in the basolateral membrane of kidney epithelial cells, we hypothesised that it might have a key role in mediating or stabilising cell-cell interactions. In non-ciliated L929 cells, stable or transient surface expression of the PC1 extracellular domain was sufficient to confer an adhesive phenotype and stimulate junction formation. In MDCK cells, we found that PC1 was recruited to the lateral membranes coincident with E-cadherin within 30 minutes after a `calcium switch'. Recruitment of both proteins was significantly delayed when cells were treated with a PC1 blocking antibody raised to the PKD domains. Finally, PC1 and E-cadherin could be coimmunoprecipitated together from MDCK cells. We conclude that PC1 has a key role in initiating junction formation via initial homophilic interactions and facilitates junction assembly and the establishment of apicobasal polarity by E-cadherin recruitment
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