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Cell Commun Adhes. 2011 Dec;18(6):133-43. doi: 10.3109/15419061.2011.636465. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

E-cadherin and the cytoskeletal network in colorectal cancer development and metastasis.

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  • 1School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


Abnormalities in the expression and functional activity of cell adhesion molecules are implicated in the development and progression of the majority of colorectal cancers (CRC). Cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin regulates cell polarity, differentiation, proliferation and migration through its intimate association to the actin cytoskeletal network. During colorectal carcinogenesis changes in intercellular adhesion and dynamic rearrangements in the actin cytoskeleton result in altered signalling and migration with loss of contact inhibition. The adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) protein, besides its established role in the β catenin/Wnt signalling pathway, can coordinate microtubule and actin organization during cell migration. The actin-bundling protein Fascin promotes cell motility and is overexpressed in CRC. Based on recent molecular and pathological studies, this review focusses on the role of these molecules sharing the common feature of being associated with the cytoskeletal network during colorectal carcinogenesis and metastasis. The potential use of these molecules as prognostic markers and/or therapeutic targets will also be discussed.

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