Correlation of Snail expression with histological grade and lymph node status in breast carcinomas.
Snail is a zinc finger transcription factor that triggers the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by directly repressing E-cadherin expression. Snail is required for mesoderm and neural crest formation during embryonic development and has recently been implicated in the EMT associated with tumour progression. In a series of human breast carcinomas, we have analysed the expression of Snail and that of molecules of the E-cadherin/catenin complexes. We have also correlated these data with the pathological features of the tumours. We show that Snail expression inversely correlates with the grade of differentiation of the tumours and that it is expressed in all the infiltrating ductal carcinomas (IDC) presenting lymph node metastases that were analysed. In addition, Snail is expressed in some dedifferentiated tumours with a negative nodal status. Considering that Snail is involved in the induction of the invasive and migratory phenotype in epithelial cells, these results indicate that it is also involved in the progression of breast ductal tumours, where it could additionally serve as a marker of the metastatic potential.