Decreased plakophilin-1 expression promotes increased motility in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells

Tammy Sobolik-Delmaire, Dawn Katafiasz, Sarah A. Keim, My G. Mahoney, James K. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Desmosomes are prominent cell-cell adhesive junctions found in a variety of epithelial tissues, including the oral epithelium. The transmembrane core of the desmosome is composed of the desmosomal cadherins that interact extracellularly to mediate cell-cell adhesion. The cytoplasmic domain of desmosomal cadherins interact with plaque proteins that in turn interact with the keratin intermediate filament cytoskeleton. Plakophilin 1 is a major desmosomal plaque component that functions to recruit intermediate filaments to sites of cell-cell contact via interactions with desmoplakin. Decreased assembly of desmosomes has been reported in several epithelial cancers. We examined plakophilin-1 expression in an esophageal squamous cell carcinoma tissue microarray and found that plakophilin-1 expression inversely correlates with tumor grade. In addition, we sought to investigate the effect of plakophilin-1 expression on desmosome assembly and cell motility in oral squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. Cell lines expressing altered levels of plakophilin-1 were generated and the ability of these cells to recruit desmoplakin to sites of cell-cell contact was examined. Our results show that decreased expression of plakophilin-1 results in decreased desmosome assembly and increased cell motility and invasion. These data lead us to propose that loss of plakophilin-1 expression during head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) progression may contribute to an invasive phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
JournalCell Communication and Adhesion
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Cell-cell adhesion
  • Desmosomes
  • Motility
  • Plakophilin-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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