Differential cadherin expression: potential markers for epithelial to mesenchymal transformation during tumor progression

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007 Sep;12(2-3):127-33. doi: 10.1007/s10911-007-9044-6.


The cadherin family of adhesion molecules regulates cell-cell interactions during development and in tissues. The prototypical cadherin, E-cadherin, is responsible for maintaining interactions of epithelial cells and is frequently downregulated during tumor progression. N-cadherin, normally found in fibroblasts and neural cells, can be upregulated during tumor progression and can increase the invasiveness of tumor cells. The proinvasive effects of N-cadherin expression in tumor cells result from two possible mechanisms: promotion of tumor cell interactions with the N-cadherin-expressing microenvironment, or enhancement of signaling via the fibroblast growth factor receptor. The downregulation of E-cadherin and the upregulation of N-cadherin in tumors may be a result of an epithelial to mesenchymal transformation (EMT) of tumor cells, which is notoriously difficult to detect in vivo. Double labeling of individual tumors with specific E- and N-cadherin antibodies suggests that EMT can occur heterogeneously and/or transiently within an invasive tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mesoderm / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cadherins