Joana Figueiredo

University of Porto, Oporto, Porto, Portugal

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Publications (34)175.62 Total impact


  • No preview · Conference Paper · Sep 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Epithelial-cadherin (Ecad) deregulation affects cell-cell adhesion and results in increased invasiveness of distinct human carcinomas. In gastric cancer, loss of Ecad expression is a common event and is associated with disease aggressiveness and poor-prognosis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the invasive process associated to Ecad dysfunction are far from understood. We hypothesized that deregulation of cell-matrix interactions could play an important role during this process. Thus, we focused on LM-332, which is a major matrix component, and in Ecad/LM-332 crosstalk in the process of Ecad-dependent invasion. To verify whether matrix deregulation was triggered by Ecad loss, we used the Drosophila model. To dissect the key molecules involved and unveil their functional significance, we used gastric cancer cell lines. The relevance of this relationship was then confirmed in human primary tumours. In vivo, Ecad knockdown induced apoptosis, nonetheless, at the invasive front, cells ectopically expressed Laminin A and βPS integrin. In vitro, we demonstrated that, in two different gastric cancer cell models, Ecad-defective cells overexpressed Laminin γ2 (LM-γ2), β1 and β4 integrin, when compared with Ecad-competent ones. We showed that LM-γ2 silencing impaired invasion and enhanced cell death, most likely via pSrc and pAkt reduction, and JNK activation. In human gastric carcinomas, we found a concomitant decrease in Ecad and increase in LM-γ2. This is the first evidence that ectopic Laminin expression depends on Ecad loss, and allows Ecad-dysfunctional cells to survive and invade. This opens new avenues for using LM-γ2 signaling regulators as molecular targets to impair gastric cancer progression. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Human Molecular Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: E-cadherin is a central molecule in the process of gastric carcinogenesis and its posttranslational modifications by N-glycosylation have been described to induce a deleterious effect on cell adhesion associated with tumor cell invasion. However, the role that site-specific glycosylation of E-cadherin has in its defective function in gastric cancer cells needs to be determined. Using transgenic mice models and human clinical samples, we demonstrated that N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase V (GnT-V)-mediated glycosylation causes an abnormal pattern of E-cadherin expression in the gastric mucosa. In vitro models further indicated that, among the four potential N-glycosylation sites of E-cadherin, Asn-554 is the key site that is selectively modified with β1,6 GlcNAc-branched N-glycans catalyzed by GnT-V. This aberrant glycan modification on this specific asparagine site of E-cadherin was demonstrated to affect its critical functions in gastric cancer cells by affecting E-cadherin cellular localization, cis-dimer formation, molecular assembly and stability of the adherens junctions and cell-cell aggregation, which was further observed in human gastric carcinomas. Interestingly, manipulating this site-specific glycosylation, by preventing Asn-554 from receiving the deleterious branched structures, either by a mutation or by silencing GnT-V, resulted in a protective effect on E-cadherin, precluding its functional dysregulation and contributing to tumor suppression.Oncogene advance online publication, 20 July 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.225.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Oncogene
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    ABSTRACT: Nonsyndromic orofacial cleft (NSOFC) is a complex disease of still unclear genetic etiology. To investigate the contribution of rare epithelial cadherin (CDH1) gene variants to NSOFC, we target sequenced 221 probands. Candidate variants were evaluated via in vitro, in silico, or segregation analyses. Three probably pathogenic variants (c.760G>A [p.Asp254Asn], c.1023T>G [p.Tyr341*] and c.2351G>A [p.Arg784His]) segregated according to autosomal dominant inheritance in four nonsyndromic cleft lip/palate (NSCL/P) families (Lod score: 5.8 at θ = 0; 47% penetrance). A fourth possibly pathogenic variant (c.387+5G>A) was also found, but further functional analyses are needed (overall prevalence of CDH1 candidate variants: 2%; 15.4% among familial cases). CDH1 mutational burden was higher among probands from familial cases when compared to that of controls (P = 0.002). We concluded that CDH1 contributes to NSCL/P with mainly rare, moderately penetrant variants, and CDH1 haploinsufficiency is the likely etiological mechanism. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · Human Mutation
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    ABSTRACT: Germline CDH1 mutations confer a high lifetime risk of developing diffuse gastric (DGC) and lobular breast cancer (LBC). A multidisciplinary workshop was organised to discuss genetic testing, surgery, surveillance strategies, pathology reporting and the patient's perspective on multiple aspects, including diet post gastrectomy. The updated guidelines include revised CDH1 testing criteria (taking into account first-degree and second-degree relatives): (1) families with two or more patients with gastric cancer at any age, one confirmed DGC; (2) individuals with DGC before the age of 40 and (3) families with diagnoses of both DGC and LBC (one diagnosis before the age of 50). Additionally, CDH1 testing could be considered in patients with bilateral or familial LBC before the age of 50, patients with DGC and cleft lip/palate, and those with precursor lesions for signet ring cell carcinoma. Given the high mortality associated with invasive disease, prophylactic total gastrectomy at a centre of expertise is advised for individuals with pathogenic CDH1 mutations. Breast cancer surveillance with annual breast MRI starting at age 30 for women with a CDH1 mutation is recommended. Standardised endoscopic surveillance in experienced centres is recommended for those opting not to have gastrectomy at the current time, those with CDH1 variants of uncertain significance and those that fulfil hereditary DGC criteria without germline CDH1 mutations. Expert histopathological confirmation of (early) signet ring cell carcinoma is recommended. The impact of gastrectomy and mastectomy should not be underestimated; these can have severe consequences on a psychological, physiological and metabolic level. Nutritional problems should be carefully monitored. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Journal of Medical Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: Familial gastric cancer comprises at least three major syndromes: hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, gastric adenocarcinoma and proximal polyposis of the stomach, and familial intestinal gastric cancer. The risk of development of gastric cancer is high in families affected b-y these syndromes, but only hereditary diffuse gastric cancer is genetically explained (caused by germline alterations of CDH1, which encodes E-cadherin). Gastric cancer is also associated with a range of several cancer-associated syndromes with known genetic causes, such as Lynch, Li-Fraumeni, Peutz-Jeghers, hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndromes, familial adenomatous polyposis, and juvenile polyposis. We present contemporary knowledge on the genetics, pathogenesis, and clinical features of familial gastric cancer, and discuss research and technological developments, which together are expected to open avenues for new genetic testing approaches and novel therapeutic strategies. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · The Lancet Oncology
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer is an autosomic dominant syndrome associated with E-cadherin protein (CDH1) gene germline mutations. Clinical criteria for genetic screening were revised in 2010 by the International Gastric Cancer Linkage Consortium at the Cambridge meeting. About 40 % of families fulfilling clinical criteria for this inherited disease present deleterious CDH1 germline mutations. Lobular breast cancer is a neoplastic condition associated with hereditary diffuse gastric cancer syndrome. E-cadherin constitutional mutations have been described in both settings, in gastric and breast cancers. The management of CDH1 asymptomatic mutation carriers requires a multidisciplinary approach; the only life-saving procedure is the prophylactic total gastrectomy after thorough genetic counselling. Several prophylactic gastrectomies have been performed to date; conversely, no prophylactic mastectomies have been described in CDH1 mutant carriers. However, the recent discovery of novel germline alterations in pedigree clustering only for lobular breast cancer opens up a new debate in the management of these individuals. In this critical review, we describe the clinical management of CDH1 germline mutant carriers providing specific recommendations for genetic counselling, clinical criteria, surveillance and/ or prophylactic surgery.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Cancer and metastasis reviews
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    ABSTRACT: Mutation screening of CDH1 is a standard of care for patients who meet criteria for Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC). In this setting, the classification of the sequence variants found in CDH1 is a critical step for risk management of patients with HDGC. In this report, we describe a germline CDH1 c.48 G>C variant found in a 21 year old woman and her living great uncle, who were both diagnosed with gastric cancer and belong to a family with high incidence of this type of cancer. This variant occurs at the last nucleotide of exon 1 and presumably results in a Gln-to-His change at codon 16 (Q16H). We used cloning strategies to evaluate the effects on mRNA stability and found that 5/27 and 0/17 clones have the "C" mutant allele in patient and her great uncle, respectively. In vitro functional studies revealed that the germline missense mutant (Q16H) had a pro-invasive cell behavior. Both results (functional and clinical) support the conclusion that the CDH1 c.48 G>C (Q16H) variant contributes to HDGC through the generation of a pathogenic missense mutation with loss of anti-invasive function. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
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    ABSTRACT: Missense mutations result in full-length proteins containing an amino acid substitution that can be neutral or deleterious, interfering with the normal conformation, localization, and function of a protein. A striking example is the presence of CDH1 (E-cadherin gene) germline missense variants in hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC), which represent a clinical burden for genetic counseling and surveillance of mutation carriers and their families. CDH1 missense variants can compromise not only the function of E-cadherin but also its expression pattern. Here, we propose a novel method to characterize E-cadherin signature in order to identify cases with E-cadherin deregulation and functional impairment. The strategy includes a bioimaging pipeline to quantify the expression level and characterize the distribution of the protein from in situ immunofluorescence images. The algorithm computes 1D (dimension intensity) radial and internuclear fluorescence profiles to generate expression outlines and 2D virtual cells representing a typical cell within the populations analyzed. Using this new approach, we verify that cells expressing mutant forms of E-cadherin display fluorescence profiles distinct from those of the wild-type cells. Mutant proteins showed a significantly decrease of fluorescence intensity at the membrane and often abnormal expression peaks in the cytoplasm, reflecting the underlying molecular mechanism of trafficking deregulation. Our results suggest employing this methodology as a complementary approach to evaluate the pathogenicity of E-cadherin missense variants. Moreover, it can be applied to a wide range of proteins and, more importantly, to diseases characterized by aberrant protein expression or trafficking deregulation.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 12 November 2014; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.240.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · European Journal of HumanGenetics
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    ABSTRACT: E-cadherin (Ecad) is a well-known invasion suppressor and its loss of expression is common in invasive carcinomas. Germline Ecad mutations are the only known genetic cause of Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer (HDGC), demonstrating the causative role of Ecad impairment in gastric cancer. HDGC-associated Ecad missense mutations can lead to folding defects and premature proteasome-dependent Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated Degradation (ERAD), but the molecular determinants for this fate were unidentified. Using a Drosophila-based genetic screen, we found that Drosophila DnaJ-1 interacts with WT (Wild Type) and mutant human Ecad in vivo. DNAJB4, the human homolog of DnaJ-1, influences Ecad localization and stability even in the absence of Ecad endogenous promoter, suggesting a post-transcriptional level of regulation. Increased expression of DNAJB4 leads to stabilization of WT Ecad in the plasma membrane, while it induces premature degradation of unfolded HDGC mutants in the proteasome. The interaction between DNAJB4 and Ecad is direct, and is increased in the context of the unfolded mutant E757 K, especially when proteasome degradation is inhibited, suggesting that DNAJB4 is a molecular mediator of ERAD. Post-translational regulation of native Ecad by DNAJB4 molecular chaperone is sufficient to influence cell adhesion in vitro. Using a chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay with gastric cancer derived cells, we demonstrate that DNAJB4 stimulates the anti-invasive function of WT Ecad in vivo. Additionally, the expression of DNAJB4 and Ecad is concomitantly decreased in human gastric carcinomas. Altogether, we demonstrate that DNAJB4 is a sensor of Ecad structural features that might contribute to gastric cancer progression.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Human Molecular Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin) plays a key role in epithelial cell-cell adhesion, contributing to tissue differentiation and homeostasis. Throughout the past decades, research has shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying E-cadherin's role in tumor progression, namely in invasion and metastization. Emerging evidence established E-cadherin as a tumor suppressor and suggests that targeting E-cadherin or downstream signaling molecules may constitute effective cancer therapeutics. Areas covered: This review aims to cover E-cadherin-mediated signaling during cancer development and progression and highlight putative therapeutic targets. Expert opinion: Reconstitution of E-cadherin expression or targeting of E-cadherin downstream molecules holds promise in cancer therapies. Considering the high frequency of CDH1 promoter hypermethylation as a second hit in malignant lesions from hereditary diffuse gastric cancer patients, histone deacetylase inhibitors are potential therapeutic agents in combination with conventional chemotherapy, specifically in initial tumor stages. Concerning E-cadherin-mediated signaling, we propose that HER receptors (as epidermal growth factor receptor) and Notch downstream targets are clinically relevant and should be considered in gastric cancer therapeutics and control.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets
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    ABSTRACT: Serine protease inhibitors (SERPINs) are a superfamily of highly conserved proteins that play a key role in controlling the activity of proteases in diverse biological processes. The SERPIN cluster located at the 14q32.1 region includes the gene coding for SERPINA1, and a highly homologous sequence, SERPINA2, which was originally thought to be a pseudogene. We have previously shown that SERPINA2 is expressed in different tissues, namely leukocytes and testes, suggesting that it is a functional SERPIN. To investigate the function of SERPINA2, we used HeLa cells stably transduced with the different variants of SERPINA2 and SERPINA1 (M1, S and Z) and leukocytes as the in vivo model. We identified SERPINA2 as a 52 kDa intracellular glycoprotein, which is localized at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), independently of the variant analyzed. SERPINA2 is not significantly regulated by proteasome, proposing that ER localization is not due to misfolding. Specific features of SERPINA2 include the absence of insoluble aggregates and the insignificant response to cell stress, suggesting that it is a non-polymerogenic protein with divergent activity of SERPINA1. Using phylogenetic analysis, we propose an origin of SERPINA2 in the crown of primates, and we unveiled the overall conservation of SERPINA2 and A1. Nonetheless, few SERPINA2 residues seem to have evolved faster, contributing to the emergence of a new advantageous function, possibly as a chymotrypsin-like SERPIN. Herein, we present evidences that SERPINA2 is an active gene, coding for an ER-resident protein, which may act as substrate or adjuvant of ER-chaperones.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · PLoS ONE
  • Sofia Esménio · Joana Figueiredo · Raquel Seruca · J. Miguel Sanches
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    ABSTRACT: Structural and mechanical properties of the tissues are dependent on the physical linkage between cells. E-Cadherin is a key component on this adhesion mechanism and mutations on its coding gene may produce dysfunctional molecules that compromise the cell-cell linkage and increase the risk of cancer. The stationary distribution of E-Cadherin is characterized by a clear increased concentration at the membrane where it plays its adhesion role. However, for mutated molecules, the traffic dynamics of E-Cadherin is disturbed and different distributions of E-Cadherin across the cell are observed. In this work a computational tool is proposed to semi-automatically help in the segmentation of cells from microscopy images of fluorescence with tagged E-Cadherin and to compute an image of radial profiles of the molecule distribution from the center of the cell toward the membrane. The image of radial intensity profiles of E-Cadherin distribution depend on the location of the nucleus and on the specific geometry of each cell which is not related with the functional role of the molecules. In this paper the radial profiles are geometrically compensated, to cope with shape and size differences among cells, and a representative profile of the tissue is obtained for mutation detection purposes. Examples with real microscopy images of fluorescence of epithelial cells of the stomach are presented to illustrate the method.
    No preview · Chapter · Jun 2013
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    ABSTRACT: The only gastric cancer (GC) syndrome with a proven inherited defect is designated as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) and is caused by germline E-cadherin/CDH1 alterations. Other E-cadherin-associated hereditary disorders have been identified, encompassing HDGC families with or without cleft-lip/palate involvement, isolated early-onset diffuse GCs, and lobular breast cancer families without GC. To date, 141 probands harboring more than 100 different germline CDH1 alterations, mainly point mutations and large deletions, have been described in these different settings. A third of all HDGC families described so far carry recurrent CDH1 alterations. Full screening of CDH1 is recommended in patients fulfilling the HDGC criteria and total prophylactic gastrectomy is the only reliable intervention for carriers of pathogenic alterations. In this chapter, we discuss CDH1-associated syndromes, frequency and type of CDH1 germline alterations, clinical criteria, and guidelines for genetic counseling, molecular pathology, and available animal/cell line models of the disease.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Progress in molecular biology and translational science
  • Joana Figueiredo · Raquel Seruca
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    ABSTRACT: In HDGC, CDH1 missense mutations occur in about 25 % of the cases with CDH1 genetic alterations. In these cases, a single nucleotide change at CDH1 gene results in an altered aminoacid sequence at E-cadherin molecule. Contrary to truncating mutations, whose functional relevance was soon recognized, the pathogenic significance of CDH1 missense mutations was more difficult to establish. Missense mutations can be classified as deleterious (pathogenic variant) or non-deleterious (neutral variant). In both situations, the full-length of the protein is preserved but in the case of a pathogenic variant, the aminoacid change may alter the protein conformation and function. Although the functional effects of missense mutations are difficult to predict, in the last decade, different models have been developed to study the pathogenic significance of these CDH1 mutants and it was shown that these apparently slight changes can compromise not only the normal function of E-cadherin, but also can affect a number of cellular processes such as normal protein trafficking and membrane localization, as well as signal transduction. Herein, we review the severe effects caused by CDH1 pathogenic variants and discuss how these novel findings can be applied to the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat patients harboring carcinomas mediated by E-cadherin loss of function.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2013
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    ABSTRACT: Orofacial clefts (OFC) are among the most common birth defects worldwide. The etiology of non-syndromic OFC is still largely unknown. During embryonic development, the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, encoded by CDH1, is highly expressed in the median edge epithelium of the palate. Further, in multiple families with CDH1 mutations, OFC cases are observed. In order to determine whether CDH1 is a causative gene for non-syndromic OFC and to assess whether CDH1 mutation screening in non-syndromic OFC patients enables identification of families at risk of cancer, direct sequencing of the full coding sequence of CDH1 was performed in a cohort of 81 children with non-syndromic OFC. Eleven children had heterozygous CDH1 sequence variants, 5 cases with 4 distinct missense mutations and 8 cases with 4 intronic variants. Using a combination of in silico predictions and in vitro functional assays, three missense mutations in 4 non-syndromic OFC patients were predicted to be damaging to E-cadherin protein function. The intronic variants including one tested in an in vitro assay appeared to be benign, showing no influence on splicing. Functionally relevant heterozygous CDH1 missense mutations were found in 4 out of 81 (5%) patients with non-syndromic OFC. This finding opens a new pathway to reveal the molecular basis of non-syndromic OFC. Cancer risk among carriers of these mutations needs to be defined.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Human Molecular Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: E-cadherin is a cell-cell adhesion molecule and the dysfunction of which is a common feature of more than 70% of all invasive carcinomas, including gastric cancer. Mechanisms behind the loss of E-cadherin function in gastric carcinomas include mutations and silencing at either the DNA or RNA level. Nevertheless, in a high percentage of gastric carcinoma cases displaying E-cadherin dysfunction, the mechanism responsible for E-cadherin dysregulation is unknown. We have previously demonstrated the existence of a bi-directional cross-talk between E-cadherin and two major N-glycan processing enzymes, N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase-III or -V (GnT-III or GnT-V). METHODS: In the present study, we have characterized the functional implications of the N-glycans catalyzed by GnT-III and GnT-V on the regulation of E-cadherin biological functions and in the molecular assembly and stability of adherens-junctions in a gastric cancer model. The results were validated in human gastric carcinoma samples. RESULTS: We demonstrated that GnT-III induced a stabilizing effect on E-cadherin at the cell membrane by inducing a delay in the turnover rate of the protein, contributing for the formation of stable and functional adherens-junctions, and further preventing clathrin-dependent E-cadherin endocytosis. Conversely, GnT-V promotes the destabilization of E-cadherin, leading to its mislocalization and unstable adherens-junctions with impairment of cell-cell adhesion. CONCLUSIONS: This supports the role of GnT-III on E-cadherin-mediated tumor suppression, and GnT-V on E-cadherin-mediated tumor invasion. GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE: These results contribute to fill the gap of knowledge of those human carcinoma cases harboring E-cadherin dysfunction, opening new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying E-cadherin regulation in gastric cancer with potential translational clinical applications.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
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    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
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    ABSTRACT: In hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC), CDH1 germline gene alterations are causative events in 30% of the cases. In 20% of HDGC families, CDH1 germline mutations are of the missense type and the mutation carriers constitute a problem in terms of genetic counseling and surveillance. To access the pathogenic relevance of missense mutations, we have previously developed an in vitro method to functionally characterize them. Pathogenic E-cadherin missense mutants fail to aggregate and become more invasive, in comparison with cells expressing the wild-type (WT) protein. Herein, our aim was to develop a complementary method to unravel the pathogenic significance of E-cadherin missense mutations. We used cells stably expressing WT E-cadherin and seven HDGC-associated mutations (five intracellular and two extracellular) and studied by proximity ligation assays (PLA) how these mutants bind to fundamental regulators of E-cadherin function and trafficking. We focused our attention on the interaction with: p120, β-catenin, PIPKIγ and Hakai. We showed that cytoplasmic E-cadherin mutations affect the interaction of one or more binding partners, compromising the E-cadherin stability at the plasma membrane and likely affecting the adhesion complex competence. In the present work, we demonstrated that the study of the interplay between E-cadherin and its binding partners, using PLA, is an easy, rapid, quantitative and highly reproducible technique that can be applied in routine labs to verify the pathogenicity of E-cadherin missense mutants for HDGC diagnosis, especially those located in the intracellular domain of the protein.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 1 August 2012; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.159.
    Preview · Article · Aug 2012 · European journal of human genetics: EJHG
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    ABSTRACT: E-cadherin plays a major role in cell-cell adhesion and inactivating germline mutations in its encoding gene predispose to hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. Evidence indicates that aside from its recognized role in early tumourigenesis, E-cadherin is also pivotal for tumour progression, including invasion and metastization. Herein, we discuss E-cadherin alterations found in a cancer context, associated cellular effects and signalling pathways, and we raise new key questions that will impact in the management of GC patients and families.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · FEBS letters