The expression of p120ctn protein in breast cancer is independent of alpha- and beta-catenin and E-cadherin

Am J Pathol. 1998 Jan;152(1):75-82.


Several studies have reported loss or alteration of expression of E-cadherin in breast cancer and more recently changes in levels of expression of the catenins. We used immunofluorescence to examine E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and p120ctn (formerly p120CAS) expression in 91 cases of invasive ductal carcinoma. As expected, all four proteins co-localize to the junctional regions of the cells. Although nuclear localization has been described for beta-catenin in colonic polyps, no examples were found in these breast cancer cases. We found that, although alteration is common in the catenins and E-cadherin, complete loss, as exemplified by E-cadherin in lobular carcinoma (where E-cadherin is frequently mutated), is rarely seen. In contrast, the catenin-related protein p120ctn shows an expression pattern that is significantly unrelated to the other catenins (or E-cadherin), including complete loss of expression in approximately 10% of the cases. No statistically significant correlations with traditional prognostic indicators were observed with any of these proteins. We conclude 1) that expression of E-cadherin and alpha- and beta-catenin are generally retained at the membrane although frequently reduced or altered, 2) that complete loss of p120ctn expression is seen in approximately 10% of the cases, and 3) that there is a significant correlation in the expression of E-cadherin and the catenins but no correlation between these molecules and p120ctn, suggesting an absence of coordinate regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / pathology
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Delta Catenin
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Trans-Activators*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin


  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Catenins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin
  • Delta Catenin
  • CTNND1 protein, human