Cell Biology

Critical Junctions

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Science  23 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5623, pp. 1203-1205
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5623.1203e

Mutations in the neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) gene, which encodes the protein merlin, result in aggressive tumors of the nervous system. Like proteins (ezrin, radixin, moesin) to which it is related, merlin resides at the interface between the cell membrane and actin cytoskeleton, but a relationship between its location and tumor suppressor function has not been clear. Lallemand et al. have found that cultured fibroblast cells derived from NF2-null (merlin-deficient) mice are identical to wild-type cells in appearance and growth rate, except that they do not stop proliferating when the cells contact each other. The merlin-deficient cells were also unable to establish cell-cell contacts through adherens junctions, assemblies known to mediate the contact-dependent arrest of cell growth. Although the core components of adherens junctions were present, assembly of the final structures required merlin, and adding it back restored both junction formation and normal cell growth.—LDC

Genes Dev. 17, 1090 (2003).

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