Desmosomes: a role in cancer?

Br J Cancer. 2007 Jun 18;96(12):1783-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603808. Epub 2007 May 22.


Much evidence now attests to the importance of desmosomes and their constituents in cancer. Alterations in the expression of desmosomal components could contribute to the progression of the disease by modifying intracellular signal transduction pathways and/or by causing reduced cell adhesion. The Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is a potential target because of the involvement of the cytoplasmic desmosomal protein plakoglobin. Loss of desmosomal adhesion is a prerequisite for the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, implicated in the conversion of early stage tumours to invasive cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / physiology
  • Cell Membrane / pathology
  • Desmosomes / pathology
  • Desmosomes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • beta Catenin / physiology
  • gamma Catenin / physiology


  • Cadherins
  • beta Catenin
  • gamma Catenin