Cadherins and cancer: how does cadherin dysfunction promote tumor progression?

Oncogene. 2008 Nov 24;27(55):6920-9. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.343.


It has long been recognized that the cell-cell adhesion receptor, E-cadherin, is an important determinant of tumor progression, serving as a suppressor of invasion and metastasis in many contexts. Yet how the loss of E-cadherin function promotes tumor progression is poorly understood. In this review, we focus on three potential underlying mechanisms: the capacity of E-cadherin to regulate beta-catenin signaling in the canonical Wnt pathway; its potential to inhibit mitogenic signaling through growth factor receptors and the possible links between cadherins and the molecular determinants of epithelial polarity. Each of these potential mechanisms provides insights into the complexity that is likely responsible for the tumor-suppressive action of E-cadherin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / physiology


  • Cadherins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • beta Catenin