The stage-specific function of gap junctions during tumourigenesis
© University of Wrocław 2007
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.