Gastrokine 1 (GKN1) is a stomach-specific protein important in the replenishment of the surface lumen epithelial cell layer and in maintaining mucosal integrity. A role in cell proliferation and differentiation has also been hypothesized. Despite these findings, the function(s) as well as the cellular localization of GKN1 in the cellular machinery are currently not clarified. The investigation of subcellular localization of GKN1 in gastric cancer cells can provide insights into its potential cellular roles. Subcellular fractions of gastric cancer cells (AGS) transfected with full-length GKN1 (flGKN1) or incubated with recombinant GKN1 (rGKN1) lacking the first 20 amino acids at N-terminal were analyzed by Western blot and confocal microscopy and compared with those from normal gastric tissue. Wild type GKN1 (wtGKN1) and flGKN1 were revealed in the cytoplasm and in the membrane fractions of gastric cells, whereas rGKN1 was revealed in the cytoplasmic fractions, but a high amount was detected in the membrane pellet of the AGS lysate. The cellular distribution of GKN1 was also confirmed by confocal microscopy. The purified protein was also used to highlight its possible association with actin through confocal microscopy, pelleting assay, and size-exclusion chromatography. GKN1 co-localizes with actin in normal gastric tissue, but no direct interaction was observed between the two proteins in vitro. Most likely, GKN1 indirectly participates in actin stabilization since its overexpression in gastric cancer cells strongly increases the expression of tight and adherens junction proteins.
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