Expression of E-cadherin and p53 proteins in human soft tissue sarcomas

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2002 Jan;126(1):33-8. doi: 10.1043/0003-9985(2002)126<0033:EOECAP>2.0.CO;2.


Objective: To investigate the expression of E-cadherin in human soft tissue sarcomas and its potential relationship to p53 alterations.

Design: Tissue sections of 91 soft tissue sarcomas were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for E-cadherin and p53 proteins. Sixty-one tumors were investigated further by the application of the polymerase chain reaction technique and a direct sequence analysis procedure of exons 5 through 8 in the p53 gene.

Setting: Tertiary-care teaching hospital.

Patients: Ninety-one patients with soft tissue tumor were treated surgically. Thirteen of these patients had tumors with epithelial differentiation.

Results: E-Cadherin was expressed at the cell-cell boundaries in 11 samples (12%): 9/13 (69%) with and 2/78 (3%) without histologic evidence of epithelial elements. Other sarcomas were completely negative for E-cadherin. Overexpression of p53 was detected in 30 cases (33%), 7 of which also demonstrated mutations in the p53 gene. The frequencies of p53 abnormalities in tumors with and without epithelial components were 8% and 37%, respectively. No association was established between E-cadherin immunoreactivity and p53 abnormalities (P =.13). Tumor grade strongly correlated with p53 alterations (P =.01), but not with E-cadherin expression (P =.07).

Conclusions: These data support the involvement of p53 alterations in the pathogenesis of soft tissue sarcomas. The lack of E-cadherin expression in these tumors, with the exception of lesions showing epithelial differentiation, indicates that E-cadherin is not an important factor involved in cell-cell adhesion in sarcomas. It is, however, suggested that E-cadherin may play a role in the development and/or maintenance of epithelial architecture in sarcomas, regardless of p53 status.

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Genes, p53
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sarcoma / genetics
  • Sarcoma / metabolism*
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*


  • Cadherins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53