Securin regulates sister chromatid separation during mitosis, induces bFGF-mediated angiogenesis, and securin overexpression causes in vitro transformation and in vivo tumor formation in nude mice. As estrogen administration to oophorectomized rats increased pituitary securin expression, we used immunohistochemistry to examine securin and estrogen receptor alpha (ER-alpha) expression in 90 breast tumors and 18 normal breast tissues. Breast tumor securin and ER-alpha expression were quantitated by image analysis and expressed as fold difference relative to securin expression in normal breast tissue. Low cytoplasmic securin expression was seen in the normal breast epithelium, whereas abundant cytoplasmic and nuclear securin expression was demonstrated in all 90 breast tumors. Highest securin expression was seen in brain metastatic breast tumors (4.3-fold, P<0.01), cells derived from metastatic breast cancers (6.5-fold, P<0.001), and in invasive ductal carcinoma (mean+/-s.e.: 3.8-fold, P<0.001). Highly pleomorphic (4.1-fold) or highly proliferative breast tumors (1.6-fold) exhibited high immunohistochemical securin expression compared to low-grade breast tumors (P<0.05). Northern blot analysis in 12 of the breast tumors confirmed the immunohistochemical findings demonstrating increased securin mRNA expression compared to normal breast mucosa (2.5-fold, P=0.03), with highest securin evident in invasive (3.5-fold) vs noninvasive tumors (1.9-fold, P=0.03). In addition, some tumors that exhibited high securin expression also expressed high ER-alpha levels (P<0.0001). These results demonstrate that the estrogen-induced transforming gene, securin is abundantly expressed in breast carcinoma, and is associated with the presence of metastatic spread, and lymph node invasion. We propose immunohistochemical tumor securin expression as a potential invasive marker, and novel therapeutic target in breast cancer.