Integrins, cadherins, and catenins: molecular cross-talk in cancer cells

J Pathol. 1998 Sep;186(1):1-2. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199809)186:1<1::AID-PATH135>3.0.CO;2-T.


In the past decade, there have been major advances in the understanding of some of the mechanisms underlying tumour differentiation, invasion, and metastasis, in which cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion molecules play a critical role. Cadherin/catenin complex and the integrins are the prime mediators of cell adhesion in normal and transformed cells, cadherin/catenin being largely responsible for intercellular adhesion and integrins for cell-extracellular matrix interactions. Intercellular and cell-matrix adhesion mediated by cadherin/catenin and integrins is likely to play a role in the control of both structural morphology and functional differentiation; hence, any loss of this control mechanism may well facilitate the neoplastic process. Indeed, in cancer cells, there is a co-ordinated down-regulation of both integrins and cadherins which correlates with tumour dedifferentiation. However, the expression and cellular localization of catenins do not always correlate with cadherin expression, since the catenins are rather promiscuous molecules which interact not only with E-cadherin, but also with growth regulatory and signalling molecules such as epidermal growth factor receptor and the adenomatous polyposis coli gene product.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • Cadherins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Integrins
  • Neoplasm Proteins