Beta-catenin expression in human cancers

Am J Pathol. 1996 Jan;148(1):39-46.


Cell-cell adhesion in tissue is mainly regulated by homotypic interaction of cadherin molecules, which are anchored to the cytoskeleton via cytoplasmic proteins, including alpha- and beta-catenin. Although we previously demonstrated that alpha-catenin is crucial for cadherin function in vivo, little is known about the role of beta-catenin. We examined the expression of beta-catenin in human carcinoma samples along with normal tissue (esophagus, stomach, and colon) by immunostaining using our antibody for beta-catenin. Normal epithelium strongly expressed beta-catenin. However, beta-catenin expression was frequently reduced in primary tumors of the esophagus (10 of 15, 67%), stomach (9 of 19, 47%), and colon (11 of 22, 50%). From an immunoprecipitation study, we found that beta-catenin forms a complex with E-cadherin not only in the normal epithelium but also in cancerous tissues. In coexpression patterns of E-cadherin and beta-catenin, 43 (77%) of the 56 tumors showed a similar expression of both molecules, whereas the other 13 tumors (23%) showed positive staining for E-cadherin and reduced expression of beta-catenin. These findings suggest that beta-catenin forms a complex with E-cadherin in vivo and down-regulation of beta-catenin expression is associated with malignant transformation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / chemistry*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cadherins / analysis*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / chemistry*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / chemistry
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Trans-Activators*
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • beta Catenin