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J Cell Biol. 1999 Nov 1;147(3):631-44.

N-cadherin promotes motility in human breast cancer cells regardless of their E-cadherin expression.

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Department of Biology, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio 43606, USA.


E-cadherin is a transmembrane glycoprotein that mediates calcium-dependent, homotypic cell-cell adhesion and plays a role in maintaining the normal phenotype of epithelial cells. Decreased expression of E-cadherin has been correlated with increased invasiveness of breast cancer. In other systems, inappropriate expression of a nonepithelial cadherin, such as N-cadherin, by an epithelial cell has been shown to downregulate E-cadherin expression and to contribute to a scattered phenotype. In this study, we explored the possibility that expression of nonepithelial cadherins may be correlated with increased motility and invasion in breast cancer cells. We show that N-cadherin promotes motility and invasion; that decreased expression of E-cadherin does not necessarily correlate with motility or invasion; that N-cadherin expression correlates both with invasion and motility, and likely plays a direct role in promoting motility; that forced expression of E-cadherin in invasive, N-cadherin-positive cells does not reduce their motility or invasive capacity; that forced expression of N-cadherin in noninvasive, E-cadherin-positive cells produces an invasive cell, even though these cells continue to express high levels of E-cadherin; that N-cadherin-dependent motility may be mediated by FGF receptor signaling; and that cadherin-11 promotes epithelial cell motility in a manner similar to N-cadherin.

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