Changes in expression of α6/β4 integrin heterodimer in primary and metastatic breast cancer

P. G. Natali, M. R. Nicotra, C. Botti, M. Mottolese, A. Bigotti, O. Segatto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The α6/β4 integrin complex has been shown to be expressed in murine tissues at the basolateral aspect of most epithelial cells including the mammary epithelium, thus suggesting that this heterodimer may interact with components of the basement membrane. Because transformation of mammary epithelium frequently results in disappearance of basement membranes and loss of cell polarisation we have analysed in the present study whether expression of the α6/β4 complex is altered in human breast tumours. The results of the present study confirm that in human mammary gland α6 and β4 subunits colocalise at the basolateral aspect of the epithelium. While in benign breast lesions this distribution pattern remains mostly unchanged, in primary carcinomas the expression of both chains is either redistributed over the cell surface or significantly reduced. This altered pattern of expression is paralleled by the lack of detection of basement membrane laminin and collagen type IV. In metastatic lesions the expression of the heterodimer is maintained in most of the lymphonodal foci, but less frequently detected in metastasis localised in the pleural cavity and in parenchymal tissues. These findings indicate that in breast epithelium expression of the α6/β4 heterodimer is modulated by the presence of basement membrane and is possibly influenced by microenvironmental factors as suggested by the different pattern of α6/β4 expression in nodal and extranodal metastatic foci.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-322
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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