Background Clustered protocadherins (Pcdhs) are a large family of neural cadherin-like proteins encoded by individual exons located within three gene clusters. Each exon codes an extracellular, transmembrane, and proximal cytoplasmic domain. These “variable” regions may be spliced to a constant cytoplasmic moiety encoded at the end of a cluster. Pcdh extracellular domains mediate homophilic cell-cell binding but their cytoplasmic domains cause intracellular retention and may negatively regulate Pcdh cell-cell binding. Pcdhs can be found at the cell surface in neurons and other cells but are also, unlike classical cadherins, prominently trafficked to the endolysosome system. It was previously found that a segment within the variable portion of the Pcdh-γA3 cytoplasmic domain (VCD) was shown to be necessary for endolysosomal trafficking. Results Here it is shown that this same VCD segment can mediate cytoplasmic association among Pcdhs from the different clusters. Internal deletions within this VCD region (termed here the VCD motif) that disrupt the association altered trafficking of Pcdh-γA3 in the endolysosomal system while deletions outside VCD motif did not affect trafficking. Conclusions The results show that Pcdhs associate cytoplasmically via a motif within the VCD and that this is critical for Pcdh trafficking. Given that truncation at the VCD motif alters endolysosomal trafficking of Pcdhs, the VCD interaction described here may provide new insights into the dynamic nature of Pcdh mediated cell-cell interactions.
Shonubi, A., Roman, C. & Phillips, G. R. (2015). The clustered protocadherin endolysosomal trafficking motif mediates cytoplasmic association. BMC Cell Biology, 16, 28. doi:10.1186/s12860-015-0074-4.