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Cancer Res. 1996 Jun 1;56(11):2633-40.

Identification of murine p120 isoforms and heterogeneous expression of p120cas isoforms in human tumor cell lines.

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Department of Tumor Cell Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105, USA.


p120cas (CAS) is a protein tyrosine kinase substrate that associates directly with the cytoplasmic tail of the cell-cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. CAS is thus part of a multimolecular complex that, along with other cadherin-binding proteins (catenins), mediates interactions between E-cadherin and the actin cytoskeleton. Down-regulation of E-cadherin expression and defects in catenin function have been implicated in tumor metastasis, but the role of CAS in these processes has not been addressed. Recently, the study of CAS was complicated when new anti-CAS antibodies revealed the presence of at least four putative CAS isoforms that appeared to vary in abundance between cell types. Here, we identify the four major isoforms expressed in murine fibroblasts, and we show that they are products of alternative splicing. Analysis of CAS isoforms in a variety of murine cell lines indicates that motile cells like fibroblasts and macrophages preferentially express CAS1 (i.e., CAS1A and CAS1B isoforms), and epithelial cells preferentially express CAS2 (i.e., CAS2A and CAS2B isoforms), whereas nonadherent cells (e.g., B cells, T cells, and myeloid cells) do not express detectable levels of CAS. Interestingly, CAS1 expression is dramatically up-regulated in a Src-transformed Madin-Darby canine kidney cell line, indicating that the pattern of isoform expression can be altered by cell transformation. Analysis of a variety of differentiated and metastatic human tumor cell lines reveals that CAS isoform expression in these cells is quite heterogeneous. Furthermore, several poorly differentiated cell lines fail to express particular isoforms that are typically observed in well-differentiated cell lines. These data raise the possibility that unbalanced expression of CAS isoforms in human carcinomas may influence cadherin function and contribute to malignant or metastatic cell phenotypes.

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