Cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin expression in human breast cancer cell lines: relationship to morphology and invasive capacities.

C. L. Sommers, E. W. Thompson, J. A. Torri, R. Kemler, E. P. Gelmann, S. W. Byers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Loss of cell-cell adhesion in carcinoma cells may be an important step in the acquisition of an invasive, metastatic phenotype. We have examined the expression of the epithelial-specific cell adhesion molecule uvomorulin (E-cadherin, cell-CAM 120/80, L-CAM) in human breast cancer cell lines. We find that fibroblastoid, highly invasive, vimentin-expressing breast cancer cell lines do not express uvomorulin. Of the more epithelial-appearing, less invasive, keratin-expressing breast cancer cell lines, some express uvomorulin, and some do not. We examined the morphologies of the cell lines in the reconstituted basement membrane matrix Matrigel and measured the ability of the cells to traverse a Matrigel-coated filter as in vitro models for detachment of carcinoma cells from neighboring cells and invasion through basement membrane into surrounding tissue. Colonies of uvomorulin-positive cells have a characteristic fused appearance in Matrigel, whereas uvomorulin-negative cells appear detached. Cells which are uvomorulin negative and vimentin positive have a stellate morphology in Matrigel. We show that uvomorulin is responsible for the fused colony morphology in Matrigel since treatment of uvomorulin-positive MCF-7 cells with an antibody to uvomorulin caused the cells to detach from one another but did not induce invasiveness in these cells, as measured by their ability to cross a Matrigel-coated polycarbonate filter in a modified Boyden chamber assay. Two uvomorulin-negative, vimentin-negative cell lines are also not highly invasive as measured by this assay. We suggest that loss of uvomorulin-mediated cell-cell adhesion may be one of many changes involved in the progression of a carcinoma cell to an invasive phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalCell growth & differentiation : the molecular biology journal of the American Association for Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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