Altered expression of α6 integrin subunit in oral squamous cell carcinoma and oral potentially malignant lesions

P. Garzino-Demo, M. Carrozzo, L. Trusolino, P. Savoia, S. Gandolfo, P. C. Marchisio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The expression and distribution of integrin chains α2, α3, α5, α6, β1, β4, collagen type IV, laminin 1 and laminin 5 in oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and oral keratoses with and without dysplasia (OL) have been studied by immunochemistry and western blotting. Focal interruptions of basement membrane protein staining were detected in SCC indicating a loss of continuity, whereas tumour nests were apparently completely surrounded by laminin 1, type IV collagen and laminin 5; the loss of basement membrane components in OL was found in only one specimen showing severe dysplasia. The localisation of integrins showed altered suprabasal and pericellular expression of the α6 chain in all but one SCC, as well as in many OL samples, whereas the β4 subunit showed only a faint pericellular redistribution in SCC. In OL, β4 was often seen in a normal basally polarised distribution. Western blotting analysis confirmed that α6 protein levels were abnormally high in cancerous lesions, whereas quantitative recovery of the β4 subunit in SCC was only minimal, suggesting a dissociation in the synthetic ratios of the two chains of the α6β4 heterodimer in SCC. Because alterations in the polarised expression of integrin α6β4 have been seen during epithelial tumour progression and wound healing, we suggest that the lack of restricted basal polarisation of α6 could be an early but non-specific marker of oral malignancy, indicating that the generation of abnormal signals from the extracellular matrix may be involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-210
Number of pages7
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


  • Basement membrane
  • Integrins
  • Oral leucoplakia
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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