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Cancer Res. 2008 May 15;68(10):3645-54. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-2938.

Loss of E-cadherin promotes metastasis via multiple downstream transcriptional pathways.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

Loss of the epithelial adhesion molecule E-cadherin is thought to enable metastasis by disrupting intercellular contacts-an early step in metastatic dissemination. To further investigate the molecular basis of this notion, we use two methods to inhibit E-cadherin function that distinguish between E-cadherin's cell-cell adhesion and intracellular signaling functions. Whereas the disruption of cell-cell contacts alone does not enable metastasis, the loss of E-cadherin protein does, through induction of an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, invasiveness, and anoikis resistance. We find the E-cadherin binding partner beta-catenin to be necessary, but not sufficient, for induction of these phenotypes. In addition, gene expression analysis shows that E-cadherin loss results in the induction of multiple transcription factors, at least one of which, Twist, is necessary for E-cadherin loss-induced metastasis. These findings indicate that E-cadherin loss in tumors contributes to metastatic dissemination by inducing wide-ranging transcriptional and functional changes.

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