Loss of E-cadherin mediated cell-cell adhesion as an early trigger of apoptosis induced by photodynamic treatment

J Cell Physiol. 2005 Oct;205(1):86-96. doi: 10.1002/jcp.20374.


Photodynamic treatment with different photosensitizers (PSs) can result in the specific induction of apoptosis in many cell types. It is commonly accepted that this apoptotic response depends on the mitochondrial accumulation of the PS. Accumulation in other cellular organelles, such as lysosomes or the Golgi complex, and subsequent photodamage resulting in an apoptotic process has been also described. However, the role played by cell adhesion in apoptosis induced in epithelial cells after photodynamic treatment is not well characterized. Here, we have used a murine keratinocyte line, showing a strong dependence on E-cadherin for cell-cell adhesion and survival, to analyze the relevance of this adhesion complex in the context of zinc(II)-phthalocyanine (ZnPc) photodynamic treatment. We report that under apoptotic conditions, ZnPc phototreatment induces a rapid disorganization of the E-cadherin mediated cell-cell adhesion, which largely preceded both the detachment of cells from the substrate, via beta-1 integrins and the induction of apoptotic mitochondrial markers. Therefore, the alteration in E-cadherin, alpha- and beta-catenins adhesion proteins preceded the release of cytochrome c (cyt c) from mitochondria to the cytosol and the activation of caspase 3. In addition, blocking E-cadherin function with a specific antibody (Decma-1) induced apoptosis in this cell system. These results strongly suggest that the E-cadherin adhesion complex could be the primary target of ZnPc phototreatment, and that loss of E-cadherin mediated cell adhesion after early photodamage triggers an apoptotic response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Adhesion / radiation effects
  • Cell Line
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Isoindoles
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / radiation effects
  • Light*
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Necrosis
  • Organometallic Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc Compounds


  • Cadherins
  • Indoles
  • Isoindoles
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Zinc Compounds
  • Zn(II)-phthalocyanine