Tumors of the matrix of rigid structures include matrical tumors of the hairs, nails, and teeth. These tumors share similar phenotypical and signaling features. Although benign matrical hair tumors are among the most common of these tumors, hair matrix tumors containing pigmented melanocytes are very rare. The malignant variant called melanocytic pilomatrix carcinoma contains benign colonizing dendritic melanocytes admixed with the carcinomatous follicular matrical cells. We studied the expression of cadherins and b-catenin in melanocytic pilomatrix carcinoma because cadherin/catenin-dependent cell-cell adhesion and signals play a critical role in the development of hair and hair tumors. We examined the expression of E- and P-cadherin and the multifunctional protein b-catenin in two cases of melanocytic pilomatrix carcinoma by immunohistochemistry. E- and P-cadherin are expressed at the cell membrane. In contrast, b-catenin is distributed uniformly in the nucleus and cytoplasm of all tumor cells. The diffuse nuclear and cytoplasmic b-catenin expression found in melanocytic pilomatrix carcinomas is indicative of transcriptional activation and b-catenin-induced cell transformation. This is the first report of cadherin/catenin expression in melanocytic pilomatrix carcinoma. Although the study is limited by the number of these rare tumors, the data add information for the understanding of disease mechanisms in hair matrical tumors. Matrical tumors of the hairs share phenotypical features with other matrical tumors and show nuclear translocation of b-catenin, suggesting a transcriptional activating rather than a cell-cell adhesion function.
Cadherins; β-catenin; melanocytic pilomatrix carcinoma