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Virchows Archiv

, Volume 439, Issue 6, pp 725–751 | Cite as

Defective E-cadherin/catenin complexes in human cancer

  • E. Van Aken
  • O. De Wever
  • Correia A. da Rocha
  • M. Mareel
Review Article

Abstract.

Cancer is caused by a series of genomic changes leading directly or indirectly to disturbance of growth, differentiation and tissue integrity. Genomic, transcriptional or posttranscriptional alterations of E-cadherin/catenin complexes that are implicated in various steps of cancer development comprise mutational inactivation, transcriptional downregulation of E-cadherin sometimes accompanied by upregulation of N-cadherin, proteolysis of E-cadherin and posttranslational stabilisation of β-catenin and plakoglobin. The E-cadherin/catenin complex serves not only cell–cell adhesion but also transduces signals to the nucleus and to the cytoskeleton, either directly or through its connections with multiple other complexes. We review here the expression of E-cadherin/catenin in human cancers, emphasising methods of observation and prognostic interpretation of results. This is illustrated in thyroid lesions from the benign follicular adenoma to the extremely malignant anaplastic carcinoma. The eye is an organ largely neglected by students of cadherins and catenins. The implication of a variety of members of these molecular families in the embryonic development of the eye strongly suggests that disturbances of cadherin/catenin complexes are crucial also in the development of ocular tumours.

Cancer Cadherin Catenin Thyroid Eye 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Van Aken
    • 1
  • O. De Wever
    • 2
  • Correia A. da Rocha
    • 3
  • M. Mareel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 GentBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Experimental Cancerology, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 GentBelgium
  3. 3.Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of University of Porto, Rua Roberto Frias s/n°, 4200 PortoPortugal

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