N-Cadherin Promotes Adhesion between Invasive Breast Cancer Cells and the Stroma

Rachel B. Hazan, Lan Kang, Brian P. Whooley, Patrick I. Borgen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules (cadherins) are involved in maintaining the epithelial structure of a number of tissues including the mammary gland. In breast and other tumor types, loss of E-cadherin expression has been seen in high grade tumors and correlates with increased invasiveness. Here we show high levels of expression of N-cadherin in the most invasive breast cancer cell lines which was inversely correlated with their expression of E-cadherin. A stromal cell line also expressed N-cadherin in accordance with its fibroblastic morphology. N-cadherin localized to areas of cell-cell contact in all cells that expressed it. Calcium-dependent intercellular adhesion of N-cadherin-expressing breast cancer and stromal cells was specifically inhibited by an anti N-cadherin monoclonal antibody. In addition, N-cadherin promoted the interaction of invasive breast cancer cells with mammary stromal cells; in contrast, E-cadherin expressing cell lines did not co-aggregate with stromal cells. The combined results suggest a functional role for N-cadherin in cohesion of breast tumor cells which, in addition promotes their interaction with the surrounding stromal cells, thereby facilitating invasion and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-411
Number of pages13
JournalCell Communication and Adhesion
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


  • Breast cancer
  • Cell adhesion
  • E-cadherin
  • Invasiveness
  • N-cadherin
  • Stroma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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