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Exp Cell Res. 1996 Feb 25;223(1):50-62.

Ligand activation of overexpressed epidermal growth factor receptor results in colony dissociation and disturbed E-cadherin function in HSC-1 human cutaneous squamous carcinoma cells.

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Department of Dermatology, Kobe City General Hospital, Kobe, Japan.


Various types of tumors show aberrant expression and overexpression of epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor and the degree of receptor expression correlates with a malignant phenotype in many epithelial tumors. However, in vitro evidence supporting the advantageous role of receptor overexpression is deficient. In this study, we compared the effects of exogenous EGF on the cell colony morphology in monolayer and collagen gel culture between HSC-1 squamous carcinoma cells overexpressing EGF receptor and their revertant subline cells. These cells formed coherent cell colonies under routine culture conditions, but addition of EGF induced dissociation of cell colonies within 24 h in the parent HSC-1 cells, though not in the subline cells. Since the colony dissociation apparently involved loss of cell-cell adhesion, we also studied the effects of EGF on E-cadherin expression and its function. Cell aggregation assays showed that EGF reduced E-cadherin function dose-dependently in the parent cells, but not in the subline cells. However, immunoblotting analysis and ELISA showed the absence of downregulation or degradation of E-cadherin. Instead, EGF tyrosine phosphorylated cadherin/catenin complex components including beta-catenin and increased the detergent solubility of E-cadherin in the parent cells. These results suggest that EGF modified the functional association between E-cadherin and actin filament through tyrosine phosphorylation of the cadherin/catenin complex and thereby made the adhesion molecule incompetent. Our results indicate that the ligand activation of overexpressed EGF receptor impairs E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and causes dissociation of the squamous carcinoma cell colonies, which facilitates tumor cell invasion in vivo. This might be relevant to the advantageous role of EGF receptor overexpression in malignant phenotype of epithelial tumor cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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