Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 641–652 | Cite as

Cadherin–catenin complex dissociation in lobular neoplasia of the breast

  • Mary Morrogh
  • Victor P. Andrade
  • Dilip Giri
  • Rita A. Sakr
  • Wooyul Paik
  • Li Xuan Qin
  • Crispinita D. Arroyo
  • Edi Brogi
  • Monica Morrow
  • Tari A. KingEmail author


E-cadherin (E-CD) inactivation with loss of E-CD-mediated cell adhesion is the hallmark of lesions of the lobular phenotype. E-CD is typically absent by immunohistochemistry in both lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) and invasive lobular lesions, suggesting it occurs early in the neoplastic process. In laboratory models, downstream post-transcriptional modifiers such as TWIST and SNAIL contribute to the dissociation of the intracellular component of the cadherin–catenin complex (CCC), resulting in tumor progression and invasion. We hypothesized that complete CCC dissociation may play a role in lobular neoplasia progression. Here we explore the relationship between loss of E-CD and dissociation of the CCC in pure LCIS and LCIS associated with invasive cancer. Fresh-frozen tissues were obtained from 36 patients undergoing mastectomy for pure LCIS (n = 11), LCIS with ILC (n = 18) or LCIS with IDC (n = 7). Individual lesions were subject to laser-capture microdissection and gene-expression analysis (Affymetrix HG-U133A 2.0). Immunohistochemistry for ER,PR,HER2, E-CD,N-CD,α-,β-, and phosphoβ-catenin, TWIST, and SNAIL were evaluated in normal, in situ, and invasive components from matched formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples (n = 36). CCC-dissociation was defined as negative membranous E-CD, α- and β-catenin expression. E-CD was negative in all LCIS and ILC lesions, and positive in all normal and IDC lesions. Membranous α and β-catenin expressions decreased with the transition from LCIS to ILC (pure LCIS 82%; LCIS w/ILC 28%; ILC 0%), while TWIST expression increased (pure LCIS low; LCIS w/ILC moderate; ILC high). Gene expression paralleled IHC-staining patterns with a stepwise downregulation of E-CD, α and β-catenins from normal to LCIS to invasive lesions, and increasing expression of TWIST from normal to LCIS to ILC. Loss of E-CD expression is an early event in lobular neoplasia. Decreasing membranous catenin expression in tandem with increasing levels of TWIST across the spectrum of lobular lesions suggests that CCC dissociation is a progressive process.


Lobular carcinoma E-cadherin Catenin Dissociation Gene expression 



Funding for this study was provided by the Breast Cancer Alliance, the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center, the Association of Women Surgeons, and the Society of Surgical Oncology.

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors have control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Morrogh
    • 1
  • Victor P. Andrade
    • 1
  • Dilip Giri
    • 2
  • Rita A. Sakr
    • 1
  • Wooyul Paik
    • 1
  • Li Xuan Qin
    • 3
  • Crispinita D. Arroyo
    • 4
  • Edi Brogi
    • 2
  • Monica Morrow
    • 1
  • Tari A. King
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Breast Service, Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Sloan-Kettering InstituteMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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