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Cell Adhes Commun. 1997 Mar;4(6):399-411.

N-cadherin promotes adhesion between invasive breast cancer cells and the stroma.

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Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules (cadherins) are involved in maintaining the epithelial structure of a number of tissues including the mammary gland. In breast and other tumor types, loss of E-cadherin expression has been seen in high grade tumors and correlates with increased invasiveness. Here we show high levels of expression of N-cadherin in the most invasive breast cancer cell lines which was inversely correlated with their expression of E-cadherin. A stromal cell line also expressed N-cadherin in accordance with its fibroblastic morphology. N-cadherin localized to areas of cell-cell contact in all cells that expressed it. Calcium-dependent intercellular adhesion of N-cadherin-expressing breast cancer and stromal cells was specifically inhibited by an anti N-cadherin monoclonal antibody. In addition, N-cadherin promoted the interaction of invasive breast cancer cells with mammary stromal cells; in contrast, E-cadherin expressing cell lines did not co-aggregate with stromal cells. The combined results suggest a functional role for N-cadherin in cohesion of breast tumor cells which, in addition promotes their interaction with the surrounding stromal cells, thereby facilitating invasion and metastasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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