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Oncogene. 1995 Oct 5;11(7):1319-26.

Frequent alterations in E-cadherin and alpha- and beta-catenin expression in human breast cancer cell lines.

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Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


Alterations in intercellular junction and membrane cytoskeletal proteins may underlie some of the morphological, invasive and metastatic properties of cancer. E-cadherin, a transmembrane protein that functions in epithelial cell-cell interactions at adherens junctions, is linked to the membrane cytoskeletal matrix through interactions with alpha- and beta-catenin. We have carried out studies of E-cadherin and alpha- and beta-catenin in 18 breast cancer cell lines to determine the prevalence and nature of alterations in these genes in breast cancer. Ten lines failed to express E-cadherin protein at detectable levels and seven failed to produce detectable levels of E-cadherin transcripts. In a line lacking E-cadherin expression (SK-BR-3) a homozygous deletion of a large portion of the E-cadherin gene was noted. Localized sequence alterations in E-cadherin transcripts were not identified in any lines. In contrast to the results of a previous study, no relationship was identified between E-cadherin expression and HER-2/NEU expression. Two of the 18 lines had no detectable alpha-catenin protein and six others had reduced levels. The two lines lacking alpha-catenin protein had reduced or undetectable levels of alpha-catenin transcripts, while no consistent changes in alpha-catenin transcript levels were seen in the lines with reduced, but detectable, levels of alpha-catenin protein. Similarly, although two lines lacked beta-catenin protein, in most lines the levels of beta-catenin transcripts and protein were not well correlated with one another. Our findings suggest that alterations in E-cadherin and alpha- and beta-catenin expression are frequent in human breast cancer-derived cell lines, and that in some cases the decreased expression may result from mutations in the genes. Furthermore, the frequent alterations in the expression of these proteins argue that loss of function in the E-cadherin-catenin pathway may be critical in the development of many breast cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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