The expression of the cell-cell adhesion molecules E- and P-cadherin has been analyzed in seven mouse epidermal keratinocyte cell lines representative of different stages of epidermal carcinogenesis. An inverse correlation between the amount of E-cadherin protein and tumorigenicity of the cell lines has been found, together with a complete absence of E-cadherin protein and mRNA expression in three carcinoma cell lines (the epithelioid HaCa4 and the fibroblastoid CarB and CarC cells). A similar result has been detected in tumors induced in nude mice by the cell lines, where induction of E-cadherin expression takes place in moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinomas induced by HaCa4 cells, although at much lower levels than in well-differentiated tumors induced by the epithelial PDV or PDVC57 cell lines. Complete absence of E-cadherin expression has been observed in spindle cell carcinomas induced by CarB or CarC cells. P-cadherin protein was detected in all cell lines that exhibit an epithelial (MCA3D, AT5, PDV, and PDVC57) or epithelioid (HaCa4) morphology, as well as in nude mouse tumors, independent of their tumorigenic capabilities. However, complete absence of P-cadherin was observed in the fibroblast-like cells (CarB and CarC) and in spindle cell carcinomas. The introduction of an exogenous E-cadherin cDNA into HaCa4 cells, or reactivation of the endogenous E-cadherin gene, leads to a partial suppression of the tumorigenicity of this highly malignant cell line. These results suggest a role for E-cadherin in the progression to malignancy of mouse epidermal carcinogenesis. They also suggest that the loss of both E- and P-cadherin could be associated to the final stage of carcinogenesis, the development of spindle cell carcinomas.

This content is only available as a PDF.