Background: Cadherins are a superfamily of transmembrane glycoproteins that contain cadherin repeats of approximately 100 residues in their extracellular domain. Cadherins mediate calcium-dependent cell-cell adhesion and play critical roles in normal tissue development (1). The classic cadherin subfamily includes N-, P-, R-, B-, and E-cadherins, as well as about ten other members that are found in adherens junctions, a cellular structure near the apical surface of polarized epithelial cells. The cytoplasmic domain of classical cadherins interacts with β-catenin, γ-catenin (also called plakoglobin), and p120 catenin. β-catenin and γ-catenin associate with α-catenin, which links the cadherin-catenin complex to the actin cytoskeleton (1,2). While β- and γ-catenin play structural roles in the junctional complex, p120 regulates cadherin adhesive activity and trafficking (1-4). Investigators consider E-cadherin an active suppressor of invasion and growth of many epithelial cancers (1-3). Research studies indicate that cancer cells have upregulated N-cadherin in addition to loss of E-cadherin. This change in cadherin expression is called the "cadherin switch." N-cadherin cooperates with the FGF receptor, leading to overexpression of MMP-9 and cellular invasion (3). Research studies have shown that in endothelial cells, VE-cadherin signaling, expression, and localization correlate with vascular permeability and tumor angiogenesis (5,6). Investigators have also demonstrated that expression of P-cadherin, which is normally present in epithelial cells, is also altered in ovarian and other human cancers (7,8).
Background: Actin, a ubiquitous eukaryotic protein, is the major component of the cytoskeleton. At least six isoforms are known in mammals. Nonmuscle β- and γ-actin, also known as cytoplasmic actin, are predominantly expressed in nonmuscle cells, controlling cell structure and motility (1). α-cardiac and α-skeletal actin are expressed in striated cardiac and skeletal muscles, respectively; two smooth muscle actins, α- and γ-actin, are found primarily in vascular smooth muscle and enteric smooth muscle, respectively. These actin isoforms regulate the contractile potential of muscle cells (1). Actin exists mainly as a fibrous polymer, F-actin. In response to cytoskeletal reorganizing signals during processes such as cytokinesis, endocytosis, or stress, cofilin promotes fragmentation and depolymerization of F-actin, resulting in an increase in the monomeric globular form, G-actin (2). The ARP2/3 complex stabilizes F-actin fragments and promotes formation of new actin filaments (2). Research studies have shown that actin is hyperphosphorylated in primary breast tumors (3). Cleavage of actin under apoptotic conditions has been observed in vitro and in cardiac and skeletal muscle, as shown in research studies (4-6). Actin cleavage by caspase-3 may accelerate ubiquitin/proteasome-dependent muscle proteolysis (6).