Cadherins in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) revisited: P-cadherin is the highly dominant cadherin expressed in human and mouse RPE in vivo

Xue Yang, Jin Yong Chung, Usha Rai, Noriko Esumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) supports the health and function of retinal photoreceptors and is essential for normal vision. RPE cells are post-mitotic, terminally differentiated, and polarized epithelial cells. In pathological conditions, however, they lose their epithelial integrity, become dysfunctional, even dedifferentiate, and ultimately die. The integrity of epithelial cells is maintained, in part, by adherens junctions, which are composed of cadherin homodimers and p120-, β-, and α-catenins linking to actin filaments. While E-cadherin is the major cadherin for forming the epithelial phenotype in most epithelial cell types, it has been reported that cadherin expression in RPE cells is different from other epithelial cells based on results with cultured RPE cells. In this study, we revisited the expression of cadherins in the RPE to clarify their relative contribution by measuring the absolute quantity of cDNAs produced from mRNAs of three classical cadherins (E-, N-, and P-cadherins) in the RPE in vivo. We found that P-cadherin (CDH3) is highly dominant in both mouse and human RPE in situ. The degree of dominance of P-cadherin is surprisingly large, with mouse Cdh3 and human CDH3 accounting for 82–85% and 92–93% of the total of the three cadherin mRNAs, respectively. We confirmed the expression of P-cadherin protein at the cell-cell border of mouse RPE in situ by immunofluorescence. Furthermore, we found that oxidative stress induces dissociation of P-cadherin and β-catenin from the cell membrane and subsequent translocation of β-catenin into the nucleus, resulting in activation of the canonical Wnt/ β-catenin pathway. This is the first report of absolute comparison of the expression of three cadherins in the RPE, and the results suggest that the physiological role of P-cadherin in the RPE needs to be reevaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0191279
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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