Other Cell Adhesion Molecules

6.1 EpCAM

EpCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecule, EGP40, GA733-2, ESA, KSA, 17-1A antigen) is a 40kD glycoprotein on human epithelium that is involved in Ca++-independent homophilic intercellular adhesion and is not likely involved in cell-substrate adhesion (177). EpCAM is not thought to be related to the major families of cell adhesion molecules (cadherins, integrins, selectins, and the immunoglobulin superfamily) (178). It is localized to the lateral domain of polarized epithelial cells, but cells in suspension exhibit it on the entire cell surface (177). EpCAM is overexpressed 100- to 1,000-fold in primary and metastatic breast cancer (179). In a study of 205 patients Gastl etal. (180) found that 35.6% of invasive breast cancers had overexpression of Ep-CAM by immuno-histochemical staining, and there was an association with poor disease-free and overall survival (independent of tumor size, nodal status, histo-logical grade, and hormone receptor expression). A more recent study of 1715 patients (181) showed high levels of Ep-CAM (by immuno-histochemical staining) in 41.7% of invasive breast carcinomas. In that study the expression of Ep-CAM was predictive of poor overall survival, but was not an independent prognostic marker. Ep-CAM was a marker of poor prognosis in node-positive invasive breast carcinoma (181).

Silencing EpCAM using short interfering RNA (siRNA) resulted in decreased breast cancer cell proliferation (35%-80%), decreased cell migration (91.8%), and decreased cell invasion (96.4%) (179).

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