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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 13;10(8):e0135442. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135442. eCollection 2015.

The Expression of the Zonula Adhaerens Protein PLEKHA7 Is Strongly Decreased in High Grade Ductal and Lobular Breast Carcinomas.

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Division of Clinical Pathology, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.
Department of Cell Biology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland; Institute of Genomics and Genetics of Geneva (iGE3), University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


PLEKHA7 is a junctional protein, which participates in a complex that stabilizes E-cadherin at the zonula adhaerens. Since E-cadherin is involved in epithelial morphogenesis, signaling, and tumor progression, we explored PLEKHA7 expression in cancer. PLEKHA7 expression was assessed in invasive ductal and lobular carcinomas of the breast by immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and quantitative RT-PCR. PLEKHA7 was detected at epithelial junctions of normal mammary ducts and lobules, and of tubular and micropapillary structures within G1 and G2 ductal carcinomas. At these junctions, the localization of PLEKHA7 was along the circumferential belt (zonula adhaerens), and only partially overlapping with that of E-cadherin, p120ctn and ZO-1, as shown previously in rodent tissues. PLEKHA7 immunolabeling was strongly decreased in G3 ductal carcinomas and undetectable in lobular carcinomas. PLEKHA7 mRNA was detected in both ductal and lobular carcinomas, with no observed correlation between mRNA levels and tumor type or grade. In summary, PLEKHA7 is a junctional marker of epithelial cells within tubular structures both in normal breast tissue and ductal carcinomas, and since PLEKHA7 protein but not mRNA expression is strongly decreased or lost in high grade ductal carcinomas and in lobular carcinomas, loss of PLEKHA7 is a newly characterized feature of these carcinomas.

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