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J Pathol. 2000 Apr;190(5):526-30.

Aberrant P-cadherin expression is a feature of clonal expansion in the gastrointestinal tract associated with repair and neoplasia.

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Deptartment of Histopathology, The Medical School, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.


The recognition of key roles for cadherins in the determination of epithelial cell phenotype, migration, differentiation, and tumour dissemination have stimulated much interest in this family of adhesion molecules. In the gastrointestinal tract, alteration of the expression of classical cadherins with aberrant P-cadherin up-regulation, associated with co-expression or loss of E-cadherin expression, is seen in neoplastic transformation of oral and oesophageal squamous mucosa and in lesions representing early neoplastic transformation of glandular mucosa, such as aberrant crypt foci and metaplastic and adenomatous polyps. This same phenotype is seen in enterocytes adjacent to foci of ulceration in the intestine in colitis, including inflammatory bowel disease, and in colitis-associated dysplasia. In coeliac disease, reversible E-cadherin down-regulation correlates with the degree of villous atrophy, but in contrast with colitis, aberrant P-cadherin expression is not a feature. Aberrant epithelial P-cadherin expression is thus associated with a proliferative phenotype related to ulceration and neoplastic transformation in the gastrointestinal tract, which may confer a survival advantage on these cells, but the relative functional roles of P-cadherin and E-cadherin and the molecular mechanisms underlyingP-cadherin/catenin interactions have yet to be elucidated.

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