Mutations and diminished expression of the E-cadherin gene (CDH1) have been identified in a number of epithelial malignancies. Although somatic CDH1 mutations were detected in lobular breast cancer with a frequency ranging from 10-56%, CDH1 alterations in more frequent ductal tumors appear to be rare. Here we have analyzed the coding region of CDH1 for mutations using denaturing high performance liquid chromatography and found 4 mutations in 83 ductal carcinomas (5%) and 3 mutations in 25 lobular carcinomas (12%). The germline of 13 patients with familial lobular tumors was also analyzed for mutations, but none were detected. In a case-control study, we also tested whether a variant adenine allele in the promoter polymorphism -161C-->A with a putative influence on the transcriptional activity of CDH1 in vitro confers any detectable risk of breast cancer. No significant difference in the allelic frequency between patients with breast cancer (326/1,152, 28.3%) and controls (190/696, 27.3%, p > 0.05; relative risk 1.05, 95% confidence interval 0.85-1.30) was found. A novel promoter polymorphism was identified at position -152, but the frequency of the variant cytosine allele was also similar in patients with breast cancer and controls (0.71% vs. 0.21%, p = 0.23). Transient transfection experiments using reporter constructs containing the nucleotide substitutions -161C/-152C and -161A/-152T showed only a slight decrease in the transcription activity compared to the wild-type construct. These results do not support CDH1 as a prominent low-penetrance cancer susceptibility gene, but indicate that CDH1 mutations contribute to the progression of both lobular and ductal tumors.
Copyright 2001 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.