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Keywords:

  • Colon carcinoma;
  • tumor growth;
  • complexity index;
  • mutations;
  • cell adhesion

Adhesion proteins are responsible for the structural integrity of epithelial tissue and in tumors this integrity is often lost, resulting in a disorganization of the tissue. In the present study the complexity of the invasive front of colon carcinomas was correlated with cell adhesion protein expression and with polymorphisms in their genes. A complexity index was constructed from 32 colon carcinomas using computer-assisted morphometry estimating fractal dimension and tumor cell clusters followed by tree analysis. Immunohistochemical staining of beta-catenin, E-cadherin, occludin and claudin 2 was used for assessment of protein expression. Genetic screening of tissue from the tumor invasion front with laser microdissection was performed using SSCP and DNA sequencing. Adhesion protein distribution was significantly disturbed in most carcinomas. A single mutation in the gene of beta-catenin was found but there was no correlation between protein expression and genetic polymorphism. Nor was there any correlation between the complexity of the invasive border and protein distribution or genetic alterations. The results indicate that the complexity of colon carcinoma invasion is not dependent on genetic derangements in the genes of adhesion proteins or the protein distribution. Rather, aberrations in the function of other proteins related to the adhesive proteins could be responsible.