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Cancer Res. 2007 Apr 1;67(7):3106-16.

N-cadherin signaling potentiates mammary tumor metastasis via enhanced extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.


N-cadherin is up-regulated in aggressive breast carcinomas, but its mechanism of action in vivo remains unknown. Transgenic mice coexpressing N-cadherin and polyomavirus middle T antigen (PyVmT) in the mammary epithelium displayed increased pulmonary metastasis, with no differences in tumor onset or growth relative to control PyVmT mice. PyVmT-N-cadherin tumors contained higher levels of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) than PyVmT controls, and phosphorylated ERK staining was further increased in pulmonary metastases. Tumor cell isolates from PyVmT-N-cadherin mice exhibited enhanced ERK activation, motility, invasion, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) expression relative to PyVmT controls. MAPK/ERK kinase 1 inhibition in PyVmT-N-cadherin cells reduced MMP-9 production and invasion but not motility. Furthermore, inactivation of fibroblast growth factor receptor in PyVmT-N-cadherin cells reduced motility, invasion, and ERK activation but had no effect on PyVmT cells. Thus, de novo expression of N-cadherin in mammary ducts enhances metastasis of breast tumors via enhanced ERK signaling.

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