Involvement of E-cadherin, β-catenin, Cdc42 and CXCR4 in the progression and prognosis of cutaneous melanoma

M. G. Tucci, G. Lucarini, D. Brancorsini, A. Zizzi, A. Pugnaloni, A. Giacchetti, G. Ricotti, G. Biagini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A key event in cancer metastasis is the migration of tumour cells from their original location to a secondary site. The development of melanoma may be viewed as a consequence of the disruption of homeostatic mechanisms in the skin of the original site. Objectives: To investigate whether dysregulation of cell motility (Cdc42 expression), escaping the control of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions (E-cadherin, β-catenin expression), enhances melanoma progression, and whether chemokine receptors (CXCR4) mediate cell migration and activation during invasion and metastasis development. Methods: The immunohistochemical expression of Cdc42, E-cadherin, β-catenin and CXCR4 was investigated in 30 patients with surgically treated nodular melanoma, 18 alive and disease free and 12 with a fatal outcome due to metastatic disease. Results: E-cadherin expression was significantly reduced (P <0.05) and cytoplasmic β-catenin was increased in the patients who had died compared with disease-free individuals, while membrane expression of β-catenin was similar in the two groups. Patients with fatal outcome had increased Cdc42 (P <0.01) and CXCR4 (P <0.05). In this group a positive correlation was found between melanocytic Cdc42 expression and Breslow thickness (r = 0.598, P <0.05) and between CXCR4 expression and Breslow thickness (r = 0.583, P <0.05). Conclusions: Findings suggest that primary cutaneous melanoma with a high Breslow thickness is characterized by tumour cells with high motility and invasion ability, in line with the hypothesis that low E-cadherin levels and overexpression of Cdc42 and CXCR4 could be prognostic markers of poor outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1216
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • β-catenin
  • Cdc42
  • Cutaneous melanoma
  • CXCR4
  • E-cadherin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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