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Cancer Res. 1992 May 15;52(10):2916-22.

Decreased expression of E-cadherin in the progression of rat prostatic cancer.

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Urological Research Laboratory, Radboud University Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Cadherins represent a family of Ca(2+)-dependent cell adhesion molecules involved in homotypic, homophilic cell-cell interactions. Recent studies have shown that the cadherins can play a role in invasive and metastatic behavior. Using the established Dunning R-3327 model system of serially transplantable rat prostate cancers, the expression of E- and P-cadherin in rat prostatic cancer was studied. Analysis within this system demonstrated that whereas E-cadherin was expressed in the normal rat prostate and the well- or moderately differentiated, noninvasive Dunning tumors, no expression, either at the mRNA or at the protein level, could be detected in the invasive sublines. Since not all invasive Dunning tumors studied have metastatic ability, these results suggest that a decreased expression of E-cadherin is correlated with invasive behavior rather than with metastatic ability. Recently, genetic instability occurred in an animal bearing the well differentiated, androgen-responsive, slow growing, nonmetastatic Dunning R-3327-H rat prostate cancer resulting in the progression to an anaplastic, androgen-independent, fast growing, highly metastatic state. This spontaneously arising tumor, termed the AT6 subline, in its original host was heterogeneously composed of both a well differentiated and an anaplastic population of cancer cells in which areas of squamous cell differentiation were occasionally observed. The original animal bearing this heterogeneous AT6 cancer developed multiple metastases, the lung metastases being heterogeneously composed of anaplastic and squamous cell populations. Cytogenetic analysis demonstrated that the lung metastases were derived from a specific subpopulation of cancer cells present in the original AT6 primary tumor. Immunohistochemical studies demonstrated that only the area of lung metastases displaying squamous morphology were positive for E-cadherin. In contrast, the anaplastic areas of the lung metastases and the metastases in other organs were E-cadherin negative. By the first passage of the AT6 tumor only the anaplastic cells were present and no detectable E-cadherin mRNA or protein was found in the primary tumor and metastatic deposits. These results suggest that a decreased expression of E-cadherin is associated with the progression of prostatic cancer.

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