The loss of epithelial differentiation in carcinomas, which is accompanied by higher mobility and invasiveness of the tumour cells, is often a consequence of reduced intercellular adhesion. The primary cause of the "scattering" of cells in invasive carcinomas appears to be a disturbance of the integrity of intercellular junctions, often involving the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin. Permanent and transient molecular mechanisms can lead to the impairment of junction integrity of epithelial cells and thus to the progression of carcinomas towards a more invasive state. These include downregulation of E-cadherin expression and interaction between the adherens junction protein beta-catenin and the tumour suppressor gene product APC