We examined levels of mRNA and protein for N-cadherin, the predominant cadherin in neural tissues, and mRNA levels for the cadherin-associated protein, alpha-catenin, in a series of gliomas and in glioblastoma cell lines. mRNA levels for N-cadherin and alpha-catenin were significantly higher in glioblastomas than in low-grade astrocytomas or normal brain, while the levels of intact N-cadherin protein were similar in glioblastomas, low-grade astrocytomas and brain. In addition, there was no consistent relationship between invasiveness and expression of N-cadherin and alpha-catenin in highly invasive vs minimally invasive tumours within the same histopathological grade. To assess further the relationship between cadherin expression and neural tumour invasion, we measured N-cadherin expression, calcium-dependent cell adhesion and motility of several glioblastoma cell lines. While all N-cadherin-expressing lines were adhesive, no correlation was seen between the level of N-cadherin expression and cell motility. Together, these findings imply that, in contrast to the role played by E-cadherin in carcinomas, N-cadherin does not restrict the invasion of glioblastomas.
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