Expression of the alpha 6 beta 4 integrin by squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas: possible relation to invasive potential

Kai Rossen, University Hospital
K. K. Dahlstrom, University Hospital
Arthur M. Mercurio, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Ulla M. Wewer, University of Copenhagen


We have studied the expression of alpha 6 beta 4 integrin, a carcinoma laminin receptor in ten squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) and ten basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) of the skin in order to examine whether changes in alpha 6 beta 4 integrin expression may be related to invasive and metastatic potential. Monoclonal antibodies specific for each subunit were applied on cryosections, using a three step indirect peroxidase technique. In normal epidermis the basal cells expressed both the alpha 6 and the beta 4 subunits, and the expression was polarized against the basement membrane. In SCCs the expression of the alpha 6 and the beta 4 subunits paralleled each other, showing an increased intensity and loss of polarity. The BCCs, however, showed consistently decreased expression of both the alpha 6 and the beta 4 subunits. The results of our study, as well as those of other studies, support the assumption that the increase and depolarization of alpha 6 beta 4 integrin that occurs in SCCs might be related to the invasive properties of this tumour type.