Roles for E-cadherin cell surface regulation in cancer.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Molecular biology of the cell, Volume 27, Issue 21, p.3233-3244 (2016)


Animals, Cadherins, Cell Adhesion, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Membrane, Cell Movement, Comparative Medicine Core Facility, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition, Experimental Histopathology Core Facility, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, Mammary Glands, Human, MICE, Mice, Inbred BALB C, Mutation, Missense, Neoplasm Metastasis, Receptors, Cell Surface, Signal Transduction, TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS


The loss of E-cadherin expression in association with the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurs frequently during tumor metastasis. However, metastases often retain E-cadherin expression, an EMT is not required for metastasis, and metastases can arise from clusters of tumor cells. We demonstrate that the regulation of the adhesive activity of E-cadherin present at the cell surface by an inside-out signaling mechanism is important in cancer. First, we find that the metastasis of an E-cadherin-expressing mammary cell line from the mammary gland to the lung depends on reduced E-cadherin adhesive function. An activating monoclonal antibody to E-cadherin that induces a high adhesive state significantly reduced the number of cells metastasized to the lung without affecting the growth in size of the primary tumor in the mammary gland. Second, we find that many cancer-associated germline missense mutations in the E-cadherin gene in patients with hereditary diffuse gastric cancer selectively affect the mechanism of inside-out cell surface regulation without inhibiting basic E-cadherin adhesion function. This suggests that genetic deficits in E-cadherin cell surface regulation contribute to cancer progression. Analysis of these mutations also provides insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying cadherin regulation at the cell surface.