Gene Summary

Gene:GJA1; gap junction protein alpha 1
Summary:This gene is a member of the connexin gene family. The encoded protein is a component of gap junctions, which are composed of arrays of intercellular channels that provide a route for the diffusion of low molecular weight materials from cell to cell. The encoded protein is the major protein of gap junctions in the heart that are thought to have a crucial role in the synchronized contraction of the heart and in embryonic development. A related intronless pseudogene has been mapped to chromosome 5. Mutations in this gene have been associated with oculodentodigital dysplasia, autosomal recessive craniometaphyseal dysplasia and heart malformations. [provided by RefSeq, May 2014]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:gap junction alpha-1 protein
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: GJA1 (cancer-related)

Kim EM, Bae YM, Choi MH, Hong ST
Connexin 43 plays an important role in the transformation of cholangiocytes with Clonochis sinensis excretory-secretory protein and N-nitrosodimethylamine.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019; 13(4):e0006843 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Clonorchis sinensis is a group I bio-carcinogen responsible for cholangiocarcinoma (CHCA) in humans. However, the mechanism by which C. sinensis promotes carcinogenesis is unclear.
METHODOLOGY: Using the human cholangiocyte line H69, we investigated cell proliferation and gap junction protein expression after stimulation with the hepatotoxin N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and/or excretory-secretory products (ESP) of C. sinensis, which induce inflammation. NDMA and ESP treatment increased proliferation by 146% and the proportion of cells in the G2/M phase by 37%. Moreover, the expression of the cell proliferation-related proteins E2F1, Ki-67, and cancer related protein cytokeratin 19 and Cox-2 increased in response to combined treatment with NDMA and ESP. The gap-junction proteins connexin (Cx) 43 and Cx26 increased. In contrast, Cx32 expression decreased in cells treated with NDMA and ESP. Silencing of Cx43 reduced cell proliferation and significantly suppressed Cx26 and Cox-2 expression.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that Cx43 is an important factor in CHCA induced by C. sinensis ESP and NDMA and further investigations targeting this pathway may allow prevention of this deadly disease.

Chen TM, Lai MC, Li YH, et al.
hnRNPM induces translation switch under hypoxia to promote colon cancer development.
EBioMedicine. 2019; 41:299-309 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hypoxia suppresses global protein production, yet certain essential proteins are translated through alternative pathways to survive under hypoxic stress. Translation via the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) is a means to produce proteins under stress conditions such as hypoxia; however, the underlying mechanism remains largely uncharacterized.
METHODS: Proteomic and bioinformatic analyses were employed to identify hnRNPM as an IRES interacting factor. Clinical specimens and mouse model of tumorigenesis were used for determining the expression and correlation of hnRNPM and its target gene. Transcriptomic and translatomic analyses were performed to profile target genes regulated by hnRNPM.
FINDINGS: Hypoxia increases cytosolic hnRNPM binding onto its target mRNAs and promotes translation initiation. Clinical colon cancer specimens and mouse carcinogenesis model showed that hnRNPM is elevated during the development of colorectal cancer, and is associated with poor prognosis. Genome-wide transcriptomics and translatomics analyses revealed a unique set of hnRNPM-targeted genes involved in metabolic processes and cancer neoplasia are selectively translated under hypoxia.
INTERPRETATION: These data highlight the critical role of hnRNPM-IRES-mediated translation in transforming hypoxia-induced proteome toward malignancy. FUND: This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 104-2320-B-006-042 to HSS and MOST 105-2628-B-001-MY3 to TMC).

Sun Y, Xiaoyan H, Yun L, et al.
Identification of Key Candidate Genes and Pathways for Relationship between Ovarian Cancer and Diabetes Mellitus Using Bioinformatical Analysis
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2019; 20(1):145-155 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Ovarian cancer is one of the three major gynecologic cancers in the world. The aim of this study is to find the relationship between ovarian cancer and diabetes mellitus by using the genetic screening technique. By GEO database query and related online tools of analysis, we analyzed 185 cases of ovarian cancer and 10 control samples from GSE26712, and a total of 379 different genes were identified, including 104 up-regulated genes and 275 down-regulated genes. The up-regulated genes were mainly enriched in biological processes, including cell adhesion, transcription of nucleic acid and biosynthesis, and negative regulation of cell metabolism. The down-regulated genes were enriched in cell proliferation, migration, angiogenesis and macromolecular metabolism. Protein-protein interaction was analyzed by network diagram and module synthesis analysis. The top ten hub genes (CDC20, H2AFX, ENO1, ACTB, ISG15, KAT2B, HNRNPD, YWHAE, GJA1 and CAV1) were identified, which play important roles in critical signaling pathways that regulate the process of oxidation-reduction reaction and carboxylic acid metabolism. CTD analysis showed that the hub genes were involved in 1,128 distinct diseases (bonferroni-corrected P<0.05). Further analysis by drawing the Kaplan-Meier survival curve indicated that CDC20 and ISG15 were statistically significant (P<0.05). In conclusion, glycometabolism was related to ovarian cancer and genes and proteins in glycometabolism could serve as potential targets in ovarian cancer treatment.

Wang H, Tian L, Liu J, et al.
The Osteogenic Niche Is a Calcium Reservoir of Bone Micrometastases and Confers Unexpected Therapeutic Vulnerability.
Cancer Cell. 2018; 34(5):823-839.e7 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 12/11/2019 Related Publications
The fate of disseminated tumor cells is largely determined by microenvironment (ME) niche. The osteogenic niche promotes cancer cell proliferation and bone metastasis progression. We investigated the underlying mechanisms using pre-clinical models and analyses of clinical data. We discovered that the osteogenic niche serves as a calcium (Ca) reservoir for cancer cells through gap junctions. Cancer cells cannot efficiently absorb Ca from ME, but depend on osteogenic cells to increase intracellular Ca concentration. The Ca signaling, together with previously identified mammalian target of rapamycin signaling, promotes bone metastasis progression. Interestingly, effective inhibition of these pathways can be achieved by danusertib, or a combination of everolimus and arsenic trioxide, which provide possibilities of eliminating bone micrometastases using clinically established drugs.

Shi G, Zheng X, Wu X, et al.
All-trans retinoic acid reverses epithelial-mesenchymal transition in paclitaxel-resistant cells by inhibiting nuclear factor kappa B and upregulating gap junctions.
Cancer Sci. 2019; 110(1):379-388 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 12/11/2019 Related Publications
Paclitaxel is a widely used chemotherapy drug, but development of resistance leads to treatment failure. Tumor cells that are treated with a sublethal dose of paclitaxel for a long period of time show the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype, which leads to metastasis and resistance. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is always used in combination with paclitaxel and can reverse EMT in many types of cancer cells. The ability of ATRA to reverse EMT in chemoresistant cells is still unknown. In the present study, the ability of ATRA to reverse EMT in paclitaxel-resistant cells was investigated. Three colorectal cancer cell lines, HCT116, LoVo and CT26, were treated with sublethal doses of paclitaxel to create resistant cell lines. Western blotting, immunocytochemistry, and "parachute" dye-coupling assays showed that ATRA reverses EMT, inhibits nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κΒ), and upregulates gap junctions in paclitaxel-resistant cells. Scratch wound-healing and Transwell assays showed that ATRA decreases the migration and invasion abilities of paclitaxel-resistant cells. In addition, the CT26 cell line was used in the Balb/c pulmonary metastasis model to show that ATRA reduces metastasis of paclitaxel-resistant cells in vivo. Given these data, ATRA may reverse EMT by inhibiting NF-κΒ and upregulating gap junctions in paclitaxel-resistant cells.

J J, Vanisree AJ, Ravisankar S, K R
Site specific hypermethylation of CpGs in Connexin genes 30, 26 and 43 in different grades of glioma and attenuated levels of their mRNAs.
Int J Neurosci. 2019; 129(3):273-282 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: Gliomas, the intracranial tumours are considered the deadliest malignancies. The gap junctional Connexins (Cxs) that maintain cellular homeostasis perform a unique function in glial tumour suppression. However, the differential methylation patterns of Cxs were not revealed in glioma so far. The current study attempts to categorise promoter methylation of Cx30 and Cx26 and intron methylation of Cx43 in different grades of human glioma.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: About 85 glioma patients with pathologically confirmed grades and 15 control brain tissues were recruited in the study. Bisulphite-PCR-Single Stranded Conformation analysis(SSCA), Bisulphite sequencing and MeDIP-qPCR were carried out to assess methylation status and Cx mRNA levels were also analysed to evaluate the effect of methylation.
RESULTS: We found that promoter CpG islands(CpGs) reside in Sp1 and Ap2 sites of Cx30 and 26 were hypermethylated in high grades (HG) of glioma rather than low grades. The input % of both was significantly increased (p < 0.03) in progressive grades. Interestingly, Cx43 could exhibit a significant increase (p < 0.05) in input % only in grade IV. While, Cx30 and 26 mRNAs were downregulated according to their methylation status in progressive fashion with grades, Cx43 was downregulated irrespective of intron methylation.
CONCLUSION: Thus, we suggest that the sites and extent of methylation of Cxs (30 and 26 but not in 43) are found to be altered. In different grades of glioma can provide better appreciation of the grade of the patient and might help in strategies based on epigenetic approaches.

Hashemi M, Hadjighassem M, Zali A, Hashemi J
Tumoricidal effect of human olfactory ensheathing cell mediated suicide gene therapy in human glioblastoma cells.
Mol Biol Rep. 2018; 45(6):2263-2273 [PubMed] Related Publications
The potential of herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV-tk)-expressing olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) treated with ganciclovir (GCV) to induce cell death in adjacent HSV-tk-negative cells (bystander effect) has been well demonstrated. Although it has been shown that bystander effect occurs through the delivery of phosphorylated GCV, the bystander effect mechanism and the role of gap junctions for human OECs mediated suicide gene therapy in primary astrocytes of human glioblastma remain obscure. In the present study, the efficacy of a new method for the transfer of phosphorylated GCV from OECs into primary astrocytes was evaluated. Surgical biopsy of glioblastoma was used to isolate primary astrocyte. Biopsy of olfactory mucosa was applied to isolate olfactory ensheathing cell. Expression of S100-beta antigen was confirmed immunocytochemically in astrocytes and OECs. OECs were transduced to lentiviral containing thymidine kinase gene (TK) and co-cultured with astrocytes. Fluorescent dye transfer and western blot analysis indicated the expression of connexin43 between olfactory ensheathing cells and astrocytes whereas, expression of the gap junction protein connexin43 was inhibited by the gap junction inhibitor 18α-glycyrrhethinic acid (AGA, 20 µg/ml). Furthermore, co-culture of astrocytes with OEC-TK in the presence of concentration of 30 µg/ml GCV led to a decrease in astrocytes survival rate. Also, apoptosis hallmarks, including DNA fragmentation in cell nuclear, expression increase of Bax to Bcl-2 ratio and increase of caspase3 activation were observed in this study. Our findings suggest that human olfactory ensheathing cells can deliver phosphorylated GCV into the glioblastoma derived astrocytes through gap junction communication for apoptosis induction.

Kuramoto K, Yamamoto M, Suzuki S, et al.
AS602801, an Anti-Cancer Stem Cell Drug Candidate, Suppresses Gap-junction Communication Between Lung Cancer Stem Cells and Astrocytes.
Anticancer Res. 2018; 38(9):5093-5099 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are associated with tumorigenesis, recurrence, and metastasis. Cell-cell communication via gap junctions (GJs) between metastatic cancer cells and astrocytes is necessary for brain metastasis. Agents targeting communication between CSCs and astrocytes are expected to suppress brain metastasis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using the A549 CSC, a cancer stem-like cell derived from A549, we examined the effect of AS602801, an anti-cancer stem cell agent whose safety has been confirmed in a phase 2 clinical trial, on GJ communication and connexin expression using a dye-transfer assay and immunoblot analysis, respectively.
RESULTS: AS602801 specifically suppressed cell-cell communication in A549 CSCs without any suppression of GJ communication in astrocytes; it also decreased the expression of connexin 43, a constituent of GJs, in A549 CSCs.
CONCLUSION: The anti-cancer stem cell agent, AS602801, is a potential drug candidate against brain metastasis.

Fasciani I, Pluta P, González-Nieto D, et al.
Directional coupling of oligodendrocyte connexin-47 and astrocyte connexin-43 gap junctions.
Glia. 2018; 66(11):2340-2352 [PubMed] Related Publications
Intercellular communication via gap junction channels between oligodendrocytes and between astrocytes as well as between these cell types is essential to maintain the integrity of myelin in the central nervous system. Oligodendrocyte gap junction connexin-47 (Cx47) is a key element in this crosstalk and indeed, mutations in human Cx47 cause severe myelin disorders. However, the permeation properties of channels of Cx47 alone and in heterotypic combination with astrocyte Cx43 remain unclear. We show here that Cx47 contains three extra residues at 5' amino-terminus that play a critical role in the channel pore structure and account for relative low ionic conductivity, cationic permselectivity and voltage-gating properties of oligodendrocyte-oligodendrocyte Cx47 channels. Regarding oligodendrocyte-astrocyte coupling, heterotypic channels formed by Cx47 with Cx43 exhibit ionic and chemical rectification, which creates a directional diffusion barrier for the movement of ions and larger negatively charged molecules from cells expressing Cx47 to those with Cx43. The restrictive permeability of Cx47 channels and the diffusion barrier of Cx47-Cx43 channels was abolished by a mutation associated with leukodystrophy, the Cx47P90S, suggesting a novel pathogenic mechanism underlying myelin disorders that involves alterations in the panglial permeation.

Zhang D, Yu K, Yang Z, et al.
Silencing Ubc9 expression suppresses osteosarcoma tumorigenesis and enhances chemosensitivity to HSV-TK/GCV by regulating connexin 43 SUMOylation.
Int J Oncol. 2018; 53(3):1323-1331 [PubMed] Related Publications
The ability of herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase/ganciclovir (HSV-TK/GCV) systems to kill tumor cells is partially dependent on the integrity of gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) of targeted tumor cells. Recent studies have suggested that connexin 43 (Cx43), which serves a role in gap junction-mediated intercellular communication, is regulated by small ubiquitin-like modifiers (SUMOs). However, the roles of these post-translational modifications remain to be elucidated. The present study demonstrated overexpression of SUMO‑conjugating enzyme Ubc9 (Ubc9) protein in osteosarcoma. Silencing Ubc9 by siRNA inhibited osteosarcoma cell proliferation and migration, and significantly increased the sensitivity of cells to HSV-TK/GCV systems both in vitro and in vivo. Further experimentation demonstrated that silencing Ubc9 induced decoupling of SUMO1 from Cx43, generating increased free Cx43 levels, which is important for reconstructing GJIC and recovering cellular functions. In conclusion, the present study revealed a novel method for the effective restoration of GJIC in osteosarcoma cells, which may increase their sensitivity to conventional chemotherapy.

Ivashkiv LB
IFNγ: signalling, epigenetics and roles in immunity, metabolism, disease and cancer immunotherapy.
Nat Rev Immunol. 2018; 18(9):545-558 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
IFNγ is a cytokine with important roles in tissue homeostasis, immune and inflammatory responses and tumour immunosurveillance. Signalling by the IFNγ receptor activates the Janus kinase (JAK)-signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 (STAT1) pathway to induce the expression of classical interferon-stimulated genes that have key immune effector functions. This Review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of the transcriptional, chromatin-based and metabolic mechanisms that underlie IFNγ-mediated polarization of macrophages to an 'M1-like' state, which is characterized by increased pro-inflammatory activity and macrophage resistance to tolerogenic and anti-inflammatory factors. In addition, I describe the newly discovered effects of IFNγ on other leukocytes, vascular cells, adipose tissue cells, neurons and tumour cells that have important implications for autoimmunity, metabolic diseases, atherosclerosis, neurological diseases and immune checkpoint blockade cancer therapy.

Das S, Ciombor KK, Haraldsdottir S, Goldberg RM
Promising New Agents for Colorectal Cancer.
Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2018; 19(6):29 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OPINION STATEMENT: Choosing the optimal treatment approach for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) demands that oncologists assess both clinical and genomic variables and individualize care based upon the findings. Clinically, choices depend on assessing the side of the colon in which the primary tumor originates, the sites and burden of metastatic disease, the patient's performance status, and their individual comorbidities. Genomic assessment of the tumor to discern the mutational status of genes such as RAS/RAF, HER2, and TRK, as well as assessing whether tumors have defective mismatch repair (dMMR) or high microsatellite instability (MSI-H), all factor in to potential treatment options and can determine clinical trial eligibility. Metastasectomy may be an option for patients with a low burden of disease and accessible liver- or lung-limited metastases. In some unresectable cases, systemic therapy with a FOLFOX- or FOLFIRI-based regimen with or without a biologic agent can lead to sufficient disease reduction to make a patient eligible for resection of metastatic disease. Tumor sidedness and RAS mutational status guide which biologic we add to the initial chemotherapy backbone, with patients with left-sided, RAS wild-type (WT) tumors receiving anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-directed therapy and patients with right-sided tumors or those with RAS mutations receiving bevacizumab. In patients with tumors that manifest microsatellite instability or deficient mismatch repair, we typically administer checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab or nivolumab after progression on irinotecan- or oxaliplatin-based therapies. In patients with progressive disease, we routinely send tumor tissue for next generation sequencing (NGS) to assess for the presence of actionable genomic alterations such as HER2, BRAF, and TRK fusions and offer them the option of enrollment on clinical trials with agents targeting those or other identified alterations.

Wang Y, Guo W, Xu H, et al.
An extensive study of the mechanism of prostate cancer metastasis.
Neoplasma. 2018; 65(2):253-261 [PubMed] Related Publications
The study aimed to identify the pivotal genes and pathways involved in prostate cancer metastasis. Using the expression profile dataset GSE7930, downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database, differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between primary and highly metastatic prostate cell samples were screened, followed by functional analysis and tumor associated genes (TAG) screening. Protein-protein interaction (PPI) network of DEGs was constructed and module analysis was performed. The expression of DEGs and pathway related genes were evaluated by PCR analysis and the migra- tion ability of prostate tumor cells was observed after FABP4-siRNA blocking. Upregulated FABP4 and GK were signifi- cantly enriched in the PPAR signaling pathway, whereas downregulated IGFBP3 and THBS1 were involved in p53 signaling pathway. Among the identified DEGs, 4 downregulated genes (IGFBP3, NPP4B, THBS1, and PCDH1) and 2 upregulated genes (GJA1 and TUSC3) were TAGs. The module was associated with focal adhesion, ECM-receptor interaction, p53 signaling, and gap junction pathways with the hub node GJA1. After FABP4 silencing by siRNAs in LNcap and metastatic DU-145 cells, the numbers of migrated cells were all significantly declined. The expressions of IGFBP3, TP53 and PPAR were significantly lower in DU-145 cells than in LNcap cells. In conclusion, FABP4, IGFBP3, THBS1, and GJA1 were determined to be potential markers of prostate cancer cell metastasis, and P53, PPAR and gap junction pathways were found to play important roles in prostate cancer cell metastasis. This study may provide helpful guidelines for clinical management.

Jia XW, Li ZW, Dong LY, et al.
Lack of hepatic stimulator substance expression promotes hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis partly through ERK-activated epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Lab Invest. 2018; 98(7):871-882 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most lethal malignancies due to its high frequency of metastasis via the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathway. Hepatic stimulator substance (HSS) can protect hepatocytes from injury and promote liver growth. Recent studies indicated that HSS expression is increased in HCC tissues; however, whether HSS expression is potentially associated with HCC metastasis, particularly through the EMT pathway, remains largely unknown. In this study, the relationship between HSS expression and HCC metastasis was investigated in clinical samples of HCC. Meanwhile, the regulation of HCC metastasis and EMT progression by HSS were also analyzed in both in vitro and in vivo models. The results showed that the expression of 23 kDa HSS was significantly decreased among HCC tissues with angioinvasion. A decrease in HSS predicted poor prognosis with a lower survival rate. Furthermore, the growth of xenograft tumors after inoculating MHCC97H-HSS-shRNA (HCC) cells into nude mice was notably accelerated compared to those inoculated with HSS-expressing cells. Further analysis revealed that knockdown of HSS expression in both MHCC97H and HepG2 cells could enhance the migration of these HCC cells. Concurrently, interference of HSS expression by shRNA promoted conversion of morphologically epithelial-like HCC cells into mesenchymal-like cells, together with downregulations of epithelial markers (such as E-cadherin and zonula occludens-1) and upregulation of mesenchymal-like makers (such as α-SMA, β-catenin, and fibronectin). Furthermore, it was demonstrated that, as well as promoting EMT, HSS-shRNA induced the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and elevated the expression of the EMT-related transcription factor Snail. Specific inhibition of HSS-shRNA-induced ERK phosphorylation by PD98059 attenuated HCC cell migration in a dose-dependent manner. In conclusion, we demonstrated that downregulation of HSS expression contributes to HCC metastasis partially through the ERK-activated EMT pathway.

Busby M, Hallett MT, Plante I
The Complex Subtype-Dependent Role of Connexin 43 (GJA1) in Breast Cancer.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(3) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gap junction transmembrane channels allow the transfer of small molecules between the cytoplasm of adjacent cells. They are formed by proteins named connexins (Cxs) that have long been considered as a tumor suppressor. This widespread view has been challenged by recent studies suggesting that the role of Connexin 43 (Cx43) in cancer is tissue- and stage-specific and can even promote tumor progression. High throughput profiling of invasive breast cancer has allowed for the construction of subtyping schemes that partition patients into at least four distinct intrinsic subtypes. This study characterizes Cx43 expression during cancer progression with each of the tumor subtypes using a compendium of publicly available gene expression data. In particular, we show that Cx43 expression depends greatly on intrinsic subtype. Tumor grade also co-varies with patient subtype, resulting in Cx43 co-expression with grade in a subtype-dependent manner. Better survival was associated with a high expression of Cx43 in unstratified and luminal tumors but with a low expression in Her2e subtype. A better understanding of Cx43 regulation in a subtype-dependent manner is needed to clarify the context in which Cx43 is associated with tumor suppression or cancer progression.

Shen Y, Li Y, Ma X, et al.
Connexin 43 SUMOylation improves gap junction functions between liver cancer stem cells and enhances their sensitivity to HSVtk/GCV.
Int J Oncol. 2018; 52(3):872-880 [PubMed] Related Publications
Connexin 43 (Cx43) can be modified and regulated by small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO)1; however, its role in liver cancer stem cells is poorly understood. In this study, we found a significant difference in the expression of Cx43 and SUMO1 between cancer stem cells and non-cancer stem cells in liver cancer. In liver cancer stem cells, Cx43 was almost absent, although the level of SUMO1 was significantly higher than that in non-cancer stem cells. Further experiments confirmed that the conjugated site of Cx43 by SUMO1 was located in Lys-144 and Lys-237, both of which are highly conserved among species. By the co-expression of Cx43 and SUMO1 in cancer stem cells, the gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) of liver cancer stem cells was obviously improved. Using this feature, we verified whether it could effectively increase the sensitivity of cancer stem cells to the herpes simplex virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSVtk) gene in combination with ganciclovir (GCV), a conventional chemotherapeutic drug, in vitro and in vivo. As expected, increasing the expression of Cx43 SUMOylation in liver cancer stem cells effectively enhanced their sensitivity to HSVtk/GCV. On the whole, this study revealed a novel method which may be used to effectively restore GJIC in cancer stem cells in liver cancer, which enhances their sensitivity to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs.

Lai SW, Huang BR, Liu YS, et al.
Differential Characterization of Temozolomide-Resistant Human Glioma Cells.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(1) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common type of primary and malignant tumor occurring in the adult central nervous system. Temozolomide (TMZ) has been considered to be one of the most effective chemotherapeutic agents to prolong the survival of patients with glioblastoma. Many glioma cells develop drug-resistance against TMZ that is mediated by increasing

Jaraíz-Rodríguez M, González-Sánchez A, García-Vicente L, et al.
Biotinylated Cell-penetrating Peptides to Study Intracellular Protein-protein Interactions.
J Vis Exp. 2017; (130) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Here we present a protocol to study intracellular protein-protein interactions that is based on the widely used biotin-avidin pull-down system. The modification presented includes the combination of this technique with cell-penetrating sequences. We propose to design cell-penetrating baits that can be incubated with living cells instead of cell lysates and therefore the interactions found will reflect those that occur within the intracellular context. Connexin43 (Cx43), a protein that forms gap junction channels and hemichannels is down-regulated in high-grade gliomas. The Cx43 region comprising amino acids 266-283 is responsible for the inhibition of the oncogenic activity of c-Src in glioma cells. Here we use TAT as the cell-penetrating sequence, biotin as the pull-down tag and the region of Cx43 comprised between amino acids 266-283 as the target to find intracellular interactions in the hard-to-transfect human glioma stem cells. One of the limitations of the proposed method is that the molecule used as bait could fail to fold properly and, consequently, the interactions found could not be associated with the effect. However, this method can be especially interesting for the interactions involved in signal transduction pathways because they are usually carried out by intrinsically disordered regions and, therefore, they do not require an ordered folding. In addition, one of the advantages of the proposed method is that the relevance of each residue on the interaction can be easily studied. This is a modular system; therefore, other cell-penetrating sequences, other tags, and other intracellular targets can be employed. Finally, the scope of this protocol is far beyond protein-protein interaction because this system can be applied to other bioactive cargoes such as RNA sequences, nanoparticles, viruses or any molecule that can be transduced with cell-penetrating sequences and fused to pull-down tags to study their intracellular mechanism of action.

Lin HC, Yang CJ, Kuan YD, et al.
The inhibition of indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase 1 by connexin 43.
Int J Med Sci. 2017; 14(12):1181-1188 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Upregulation of connexin 43 (Cx43) showed potential in enhancing immune surveillance that was suppressed in the tumor microenvironment. The expression of indoleamine 2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO) is one of the crucial factors contributing to tumor immune tolerance by depletion of tryptophan and IDO-mediated tryptophan metabolites. Here, we aim to investigate the role of Cx43 in IDO production in murine tumor by using Cx43 inducers. Resveratrol (trans-3, 5, 4 '-trihydroxystilbene) is a natural plant-derived polyphenol possessing positive effect against cancer.
TREATMENTS: All of which could be inhibited once the expression of Cx43 was blocked. Cx43 involved in IDO regulation might be useful in developing IDO-targeted cancer immune therapy.

Mikuła-Pietrasik J, Uruski P, Szubert S, et al.
The Proangiogenic Capabilities of Malignant Ascites Generated by Aggressive Ovarian Tumors.
Biomed Res Int. 2017; 2017:2592496 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Here we examined whether malignant ascites may determine ovarian tumor angiogenesis, and if so whether ascites generated by highly aggressive serous and undifferentiated cancers are more proangiogenic than those from less aggressive clear cell and endometrioid tumors. Angiogenesis was analyzed according to expression of CD31, CD34, and connexin 43. Proliferation and migration of endothelial cells were tested using fluorescence-based methods. The quantification of angiogenic agents and hypoxia-inducible factor 1

Jin J, Wang T, Wang Y, et al.
SRC3 expressed in BMSCs promotes growth and migration of multiple myeloma cells by regulating the expression of Cx43.
Int J Oncol. 2017; 51(6):1694-1704 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Interactions between bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) and multiple myeloma cells significantly contribute to the progression of multiple myeloma (MM). However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that regulate these interactions. Connexin-43 (Cx-43) has been implicated in the interplay between BMSCs and MM cells. In this study, we hypothesized that the steroid receptor co-activator-3 (SRC3) expressed in BMSCs regulates the expression of Cx-43 to promote the proliferation and migration of myeloma cells. To address this, we co-cultured a human multiple myeloma cell line, RPMI-8226 transfected with either control BMSCs or sh-SRC3-BMSCs. We found that knocking down SRC3 expression in BMSCs inhibited the proliferation and migration of RPMI-8226 cells. In addition, we found that co-culturing RPMI 8266 cells with BMSCs increased Cx43 expression, while knocking down SRC3 expression in BMSCs decreased Cx43 expression. Moreover, our work revealed that SRC3 in BMSCs regulates Cx43 expression via the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. To validate this result in vivo, we knocked down SRC3 expression in BMSCs in nude mice and found that tumor growth and cell apoptosis were significantly decreased. In addition, mice treated with either RPMI 8266 cells overexpressing Cx43 or with a P38 MAPK inhibitor (SB202190) exhibited increased intratumoral leukocyte populations and promoted cell apoptosis in tumor tissue. Our findings demonstrate how SRC3 and Cx43 regulation between BMSCs and myeloma cells mediate cell growth and disease progression, with potential implications for prognosis and therapeutic interventions.

Mavragani CP, Nezos A, Sagalovskiy I, et al.
Defective regulation of L1 endogenous retroelements in primary Sjogren's syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus: Role of methylating enzymes.
J Autoimmun. 2018; 88:75-82 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether altered DNA methylation contributes to the inappropriate expression of LINE-1 (L1) retroelements in primary Sjogren's syndrome (SS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
METHODS: Minor salivary glands (MSG) were obtained from 42 patients with primary SS [23 without adverse predictors for lymphoma development (SS-low risk), 7 SS-high risk and 12 complicated by B-cell lymphoma (SS-lymphoma)] and 17 sicca controls (SC). Additionally, kidney biopsy specimens and PBMCs were obtained from 23 and 73 lupus patients, respectively. Relative mRNA expression was quantified for full-length L1 transcripts, along with mediators of methylation. In an independent set of 44 MSG samples (11 SS-low risk, 10 SS-high risk, 15 SS-lymphoma and 8 SC), methylation levels of the L1 promoter were determined by bisulphite pyrosequencing.
RESULTS: A strong positive correlation was demonstrated between L1 transcripts and gene products that mediate de novo and constitutive DNA methylation, DNA methyltransferase (DNMT)3B, DNMT1, and methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2), in both SS MSG and lupus renal tissues. A significant negative correlation was observed between expression of L1 and lymphoid-specific helicase (LSH, encoded by HELLS) in both SS MSG and SLE kidney tissues, as well as between DNMT3A transcripts and L1 expression in SLE kidney tissues and PBMCs. Reduced levels of L1 promoter methylation along with increased DNMT3B, DNMT1, and MeCP2, but reduced LSH levels were detected in SS-low risk patients compared to both SS-lymphoma and SC. The SS-lymphoma group was also characterized by a profound decrease of MeCP2 and DNMT3B compared to SC.
CONCLUSION: Our data support a contributory role of altered methylation mechanisms in the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune disorders and related lymphoproliferative processes and suggest that LSH and DNMT3A should be investigated as candidate upstream mediators of decreased L1 promoter methylation and increased L1 expression.

Dong H, Zhou XW, Wang X, et al.
Complex role of connexin 43 in astrocytic tumors and possible promotion of glioma‑associated epileptic discharge (Review).
Mol Med Rep. 2017; 16(6):7890-7900 [PubMed] Related Publications
Connexin (Cx)43 is a multifunction protein which forms gap junction channels and hemi‑channels. It also contains abundant binding domains which possess the ability to interact with certain Cx43‑associated proteins and therefore serve a fundamental role in various physiological and pathological functions. However, the understanding of the association between cancer and Cx43 along with Cx43‑gap junctions (GJ) remains unclear. All available data illustrate that Cx43 and its associated GJ serve important functions in cancers. The expression levels of Cx43 demonstrate a downward trend and an increase in the levels of malignancy, particularly in astrocytomas. The GJ intercellular communication activity in glioma cells can be adjusted via Cx43 phosphorylation and through the combination of Cx43 and its associated protein. Available evidence reveals Cx43 as a tumor‑inhibiting factor that suppresses glioma growth and proliferation. However, its mechanism is also regarded as complicated and ambiguous. Furthermore, it is apparent that Cx43‑GJ and the carboxyl tail may contribute to glioma growth and proliferation too. However, this valuable role could be weakened by its effects on migration and invasiveness. The detailed mechanism remains unclear and full of controversies. Cx43 can enhance the motor ability and invasiveness of astrocytic glioma cells. It is also able to influence glioma cells to detach from the tumor core to the peritumoral neocortex. This peritumoral region has recently been regarded as the basic focus of glioma‑associated seizure. Thus, Cx43 may take part in the onset and development of glioma‑associated epileptic discharge. In addition, change and increase of Cx43 expression in GJs has been observed in seizure perilesional tissue, which is associated with brain tumors. Cx43 or GJ/hemi‑channels exert enduring effects in the promotion of glioma‑associated epileptic release through direct mass effects and change of the tumor microenvironment. However, there are still a number of issues concerning this aspect that require further exploration. Cx43, as a potential treatment target against this incurable disease and its common symptom of epilepsy, requires further investigation.

Phillips SL, Williams CB, Zambrano JN, et al.
Connexin 43 in the development and progression of breast cancer: What's the connection? (Review).
Int J Oncol. 2017; 51(4):1005-1013 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Connexin 43 is a prominent gap junction protein within normal human breast tissue. Thus far, there have been a number of research studies performed to determine the function of connexin 43 in breast tumor formation and progression. Within primary tumors, research suggests that the level of connexin 43 expression in breast tumors is altered when compared to normal human breast tissue. While some reports indicate that connexin 43 levels decrease, other evidence suggests that connexin 43 levels are increased and protein localization shifts from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm. In either case, the prevailing theory is that breast tumor cells have reduced gap junction intercellular communication within primary tumors. The current consensus appears to be that the loss of connexin 43 gap junction intercellular communication is an early event in malignancy, with the possibility of gap junction restoration in the event of metastasis. However, additional evidence is needed to support the latter claim. The purpose of this report is to review the connexin 43 literature that describes studies using human tissue samples, in order to evaluate the function of connexin 43 protein in normal human breast tissue as well as the role of connexin 43 in human breast tumor formation and metastatic progression.

Mikuła-Pietrasik J, Uruski P, Szubert S, et al.
Malignant ascites determine the transmesothelial invasion of ovarian cancer cells.
Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2017; 92:6-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
The exact role of malignant ascites in the development of intraperitoneal ovarian cancer metastases remains unclear. In this report we sought to establish if ascites can determine the efficiency of transmesothelial invasion of ovarian cancer cells, and, if so, whether the fluid generated by highly aggressive serous and undifferentiated tumors will promote the invasion more effectively than ascites from less aggressive clear cell and endometrioid cancers. The study showed that the invasion of ovarian cancer cells (SKOV-3 and primary cancer cells) across monolayered peritoneal mesothelial cells was elevated upon mesothelial cell exposure to fluid produced by serous and undifferentiated cancers, as compared with cells subjected to ascites from clear cell and endometrioid tumors. This effect coincided with decreased mesothelial expression of junctional proteins: connexin 43, E-cadherin, occludin, and desmoglein. Moreover, it was accompanied by transforming growth factor β1-dependent overproduction of reactive oxygen species by these cells. The activity of ascites from serous and undifferentiated tumors was mediated by p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and nuclear factor κB. When the mesothelial cells were protected against oxidative stress, both deterioration of junctional proteins and intensification of cancer cell invasion in response to ascites from serous and undifferentiated tumors were effectively prevented. In conclusion, our findings indicate that the high aggressiveness of some histotypes of ovarian cancer may be related to the ability of malignant ascites generated by these cells to oxidative stress-dependent impairment of mesothelial cell integrity and the resulting increase in their transmesothelial invasion.

Dovmark TH, Hulikova A, Niederer SA, et al.
Normoxic cells remotely regulate the acid-base balance of cells at the hypoxic core of connexin-coupled tumor growths.
FASEB J. 2018; 32(1):83-96 [PubMed] Related Publications
ATP fuels the removal of metabolic end-products, including H

Raza A, Ghoshal A, Chockalingam S, Ghosh SS
Connexin-43 enhances tumor suppressing activity of artesunate via gap junction-dependent as well as independent pathways in human breast cancer cells.
Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):7580 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The gap junction (GJ) protein connexin-43 (Cx43) is considered as a tumour suppressor protein for its role in reversing the phenotype of the cancer cells. In this study, we exploited the antitumor property of Cx43 in conjunction with the artesunate (ART), a plant-based active anti-malarial compound. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by ART resulted in DNA damage, which in turn led to DNA damage response by activation of DNA damage repair proteins. GJ deficient MCF-7 cells transfected with Cx43 gene showed an increased sensitivity towards dose-dependent ART treatment and required a significantly lower dose of ART to attain its IC

Guan Z, Zhuang W, Lei H, et al.
Epac1, PDE4, and PKC protein expression and their correlation with AKAP95 and Cx43 in esophagus cancer tissues.
Thorac Cancer. 2017; 8(6):572-576 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: This study examined the expression of exchange protein directly activated by cAMP1 (Epac1), PDE4, and PKC in esophageal cancer tissues, and analyzed the association of each protein with the pathological parameters of the samples.
METHODS: Epac1, PDE4, and PKC protein expression was evaluated by PV-9000 two-step immunohistochemical techniques in 51 esophageal cancer specimens and 10 para-carcinoma tissues.
RESULTS: The positive expression rates of Epac1 and PKC in esophageal cancer tissues (62.7% and 68.6%, respectively) were higher compared to those in para-carcinoma tissues (20% and 20%, respectively) (P < 0.05). The positive expression rate of PDE4 in esophageal cancer tissues (54.1%) was higher than in para-carcinoma tissues (30%), (P > 0.05). Epac1, PDE4, and PKC protein expression levels were not associated with the extent of tumor differentiation and/or lymph node metastasis (P > 0.05). Epac1 protein expression levels correlated with PDE4, PKC, and AKAP95 protein expression levels. In addition, there was a correlation between PKC and Cx43 protein levels (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: The expression rates of Epac1, PDE4, and PKC protein in esophageal cancer tissues were significantly higher compared to the rates in para-carcinoma tissues, suggesting an association between these proteins and the development and progression of esophageal cancer. The correlations between these proteins also revealed that they may exert a synergistic effect during the development of esophageal cancer.

Huang P, Sun Q, Zhuang W, et al.
Epac1, PDE4, and PKC protein expression and their association with AKAP95, Cx43, and cyclinD2/E1 in breast cancer tissues.
Thorac Cancer. 2017; 8(5):495-500 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: This study was conducted to investigate the exchange protein directly activated by cAMP (Epac1), PDE4, and PKC expression in breast cancer tissues, and the correlation between these proteins and AKAP95, Cx43, cyclin D2, and cyclin E1.
METHODS: PV-9000 two-step immunohistochemistry was used to analyze protein expression.
RESULTS: The positive rate of Epac1 protein expression in breast cancer tissues (58%) was higher than in para-carcinoma tissues (10%) (P < 0.05). There were no significant differences in the positive rates of PDE4 and PKC expression between breast cancer and para-carcinoma tissues (P > 0.05). The positive expression rate of PDE4 was higher in the P53 protein positive group compared to the P53 negative group (P < 0.05). Correlations between Epac1 and cyclin D2, PDE4 and cyclin D2, AKAP95 and PKC, Cx43 and PKC, and cyclin D2 and PKC proteins were observed (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Epac1 expression in breast cancer tissues was increased, suggesting that the protein may be involved in the development of breast cancer. Correlations between Epac1 and cyclin D2, PDE4 and cyclin D2, AKAP95 and PKC, Cx43 and PKC, and cyclin D2 and PKC proteins suggested synergistic effects among these proteins in the development of breast cancer.

Mikuła-Pietrasik J, Uruski P, Pakuła M, et al.
Oxidative stress contributes to hepatocyte growth factor-dependent pro-senescence activity of ovarian cancer cells.
Free Radic Biol Med. 2017; 110:270-279 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cancer-promoting activity of senescent peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs) has already been well evidenced both in vitro and in vivo. Here we sought to determine if ovarian cancer cells may activate senescence in HPMCs. The study showed that conditioned medium (CM) from ovarian cancer cells (OVCAR-3, SKOV-3, A2780) inhibited growth and promoted the development of senescence phenotype (increased SA-β-Gal, γ-H2A.X, 53BP1, and decreased Cx43) in HPMCs. An analysis of tumors isolated from the peritoneum of patients with ovarian cancer revealed an abundance of senescent HPMCs in proximity to cancerous tissue. The presence of senescent HPMCs was incidental when fragments of peritoneum free from cancer were evaluated. An analysis of the cells' secretome followed by intervention studies with exogenous proteins and neutralizing antibodies revealed hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) as the mediator of the pro-senescence impact of the cancer cells. The activity of cancerous CM and HGF was associated with an induction of mitochondrial oxidative stress. Signaling pathways involved in the senescence of HPMCs elicited by the cancer-derived CM and HGF included p38 MAPK, AKT and NF-κB. HPMCs that senesced prematurely in response to the cancer-derived CM promoted adhesion of ovarian cancer cells, however this effect was effectively prevented by the cell protection against oxidative stress. Collectively, our findings indicate that ovarian cancer cells can elicit HGF-dependent senescence in HPMCs, which may contribute to the formation of a metastatic niche for these cells within the peritoneal cavity.

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