Background: Giant congenital nevocellular nevi (GCNN) are histologically characterized by the broad distribution of nevus cells in the epidermis and dermis. Objective: To characterize E-cadherin in GCNN and define its role in nevic cell migrations. Methods: Twenty-four cases were immunohistochemically examined and in five cases cells were isolated for primary culture for migration assays. Results: The nevus cells in the superficial region showed the immunoreactivity of E-cadherin in a membranous pattern, but those in the deep part of dermis had little immunoreactivity. Ultra-structural analysis of the superficial nevus cells revealed that E-cadherin immunodeposits in the fibrillar processes around the cell body in a spotted pattern. This distribution pattern is quite different from that in the adherens junction of skin squamous epithelial cells. Boyden chamber experiments were performed using primary cultures of intradermal nevus cells. EDTA pretreatment reduced cell migration to the E-cadherin positive side when the E-cadherin positive population was relatively large in the primary cultures. Conclusions: These results indicate that E-cadherin in the nevus cells may affect nevus cell motility rather than intercellular attachment.
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