ADAM15, a member of the A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase (ADAM) family, is a membrane protein containing an adhesion domain that binds to α5β1 integrin through a unique RGD domain. ADAM15, expressed by human normal colonocytes, is involved in epithelial wound healing and tissue remodeling in inflammatory bowel disease. The aims of our study were (i) to analyze ADAM15 expression in a series of colon carcinomas and paired normal mucosa and (ii) to integrate the spatial relationship of ADAM15 with its binding partners α5β1 integrin, a mesenchymal marker, as well as with other adhesion molecules, α3β1 integrin and E-cadherin. A series of 94 colon carcinomas of the non other specified category were graded according to the World Health Organization classification. Immunohistochemistry was performed on frozen tissue sections using antibodies directed to ADAM15, α5β1 and α3β1 integrins, and E-cadherin. ADAM15 was quantified at the mRNA level. Finally, promoter methylation of ADAM15 was examined as well as the microsatellite instability status (MSS/MSI). Thirty-six percent of colorectal carcinomas displayed a reduced expression of ADAM15 in cancer cells, confirmed at the mRNA level in most cases, without promoter methylation. ADAM15 down-regulation was associated with histologically poorly differentiated carcinomas. In addition, it was associated with the acquisition of α5β1 by cancer cells and down-regulation of α3β1 integrin and E-cadherin. Finally this profile that includes characteristic of epithelial to mesenchymal transition is a late progression event of colon cancer with a poor prognosis.
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