Cadherin and catenin expression in normal human bronchial epithelium and non-small cell lung cancer

W. Roy Smythe, John P. Williams, Margaret J. Wheelock, Keith R. Johnson, Larry R. Kaiser, Steven M. Albelda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Cadherins are transmembrane cell adhesion molecules (CAMS) that mediate cell-cell interactions and are important for maintenance of epithelial cell integrity. This function is dependent on an indirect interaction between the cytoplasmic domain of the cadherin molecule with three cytoplasmic proteins known as α-, β-, and γ-catenin (-cat). Growing evidence suggests that alterations in cadherin or catenin expression or function may be important to the development of an invasive or metastatic phenotype. Immunohistochemical techniques were used to study the expression of the two major epithelial cadherins, E-cadherin (E-cad) and P-cadherin (P-cad) as well as α- and γ-cat in normal bronchial epithelium and in a series of carefully TMN-staged pulmonary adenocarcinomas (n=21) and squamous cell carcinomas (n=7). The cadherin profile of normal pseudostratified bronchial epithelium was heterogeneous. Basilar cells strongly expressed P-cad, α- and γ-cat, while columnar cells moderately expressed E-cad, α- and γ-cat. In contrast to other epithelial tumors, E-cad on non-small cell lung carcinomas was actually upregulated, however, a decrease in P-cad expression was noted in 68%. At least one cadherin or catenin was downregulated, compared to normal bronchial epithelium, in 82% of tumors examined. With the exception of an association between loss of P-cad expression and poorly differentiated state, changes in cadherin and catenin expression levels were not significantly correlated to tumor stage, cell type, or nodal status. These findings illustrate that alteration of expression of cadherins and catenins are often found in non-small cell lung carcinoma when compared to the progenitor bronchial epithelium, and may play a role in the development of the malignant phenotype. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-168
Number of pages12
JournalLung Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadherins
  • Catenins
  • Cell adhesion
  • Lung
  • Lung cancer
  • Thoracic oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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