Distribution of laminin and fibronectin isoforms in oral mucosa and oral squamous cell carcinoma

Br J Cancer. 1999 Nov;81(6):1071-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6690809.


The expression of laminin and fibronectin isoforms varies with cellular maturation and differentiation and these differences may well influence cellular processes such as adhesion and motility. The basement membrane (BM) of fetal oral squamous epithelium contains the laminin chains, alpha2, alpha3, alpha5, beta1, beta2, beta3, gamma1 and gamma2. The BM of adult normal oral squamous epithelium comprises the laminin chains, alpha3, alpha5, beta1, beta3, gamma1 and gamma2. A re-expression of the laminin alpha2 and beta2 chains could be shown in adult hyperproliferative, dysplastic and carcinomatous lesions. In dysplasia and oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), multifocal breaks of the BM are present as indicated by laminin chain antibodies. These breaks correlate to malignancy grade in their extent. Moreover, in the invasion front the alpha3 and gamma2 chain of laminin-5 can immunohistochemically be found outside the BM within the cytoplasm of budding carcinoma cells and in the adjacent stroma. The correlation between the morphological pattern of invasive tumour clusters and a laminin-5 immunostaining in the adjacent stroma may suggest, first, that a laminin-5 deposition outside the BM is an immunohistochemical marker for invasion and second, that OSCC invasion is guided by the laminin-5 matrix. Expression of oncofetal fibronectins (IIICS de novo glycosylated fibronectin and ED-B fibronectin) could be demonstrated throughout the stromal compartment. However, the ED-B fibronectin synthesizing cells (RNA/RNA in situ hybridization) are confined to small stroma areas and to single stroma and inflammatory cells in the invasion front. A correlation of the number of ED-B fibronectin synthesizing cells to malignancy grade could not be seen. ED-B fibronectin mRNA-positive cells seem to be concentrated in areas of fibrous stroma recruitment with a linear alignment of stromal fibro-/myofibroblasts (desmoplasia). Double staining experiments (ED-B fibronectin in situ hybridization and alpha-smooth muscle actin immunohistochemistry) indicated that the stroma myofibroblasts are a preferential source of ED-B fibronectin. In conclusion, in OSCC, a fetal extracellular matrix conversion is demonstrable. Tumour cells (laminin alpha2 and beta2 chain) and recruited stromal myofibroblasts (oncofetal ED-B fibronectin) contribute to the fetal extracellular matrix milieu.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / chemistry
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Fibronectins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Laminin / analysis*
  • Mouth Mucosa / chemistry
  • Mouth Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Protein Isoforms / analysis


  • Fibronectins
  • Laminin
  • Protein Isoforms