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Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters

Open Access

The stage-specific function of gap junctions during tumourigenesis

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal200713:39

Received: 28 May 2007

Accepted: 13 July 2007

Published: 29 October 2007


Tumour development is a process resulting from the disturbance of various cellular functions including cell proliferation, adhesion and motility. While the role of these cell parameters in tumour promotion and progression has been widely recognized, the mechanisms that influence gap junctional coupling during tumorigenesis remain elusive. Neoplastic cells usually display decreased levels of connexin expression and/or gap junctional coupling. Thus, impaired intercellular communication via gap junctions may facilitate the release of a potentially neoplastic cell from the controlling regime of the surrounding tissue, leading to tumour promotion. However, recent data indicates that metastatic tumour cell lines are often characterized by relatively high levels of connexin expression and gap junctional coupling. This review outlines current knowledge on the role of connexins in tumorigenesis and the possible mechanisms of the interference of gap junctional coupling with the processes of tumour invasion and metastasis.

Key words

Gap junctionsConnexinTumourNeoplasiaMetastasis