The role of gap junctional intercellular communication in neoplasia

Ruch, R.J.

Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science 24(3): 216-231


ISSN/ISBN: 0091-7370
PMID: 8048793
Accession: 009620276

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Gap junctions are comprised of proteinaceous, plasma membrane channels that link the interiors of adjacent cells and permit cells to directly exchange small (< 1,000 Daltons) molecules and ions. This exchange, termed gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC), appears to be involved in growth regulation. Growth controlling factors may pass between cells through the junctions. The loss of gap junctions or impairment of their permeability has been observed in many neoplastic cells and cells treated with growth promoting carcinogens and other agents. The loss of GJIC appears to be an important event in the conversion of a normal cell into a neoplastic one. On the other hand, the restoration of GJIC in neoplastic cells by transfection with gap junction protein (connexin) cyclic deoxyribonucleic acids (cDNAs) or by stimulating endogenous connexin gene expression has led to the reversal of the neoplastic phenotype. The biology of gap junctions and their role in growth regulation and neoplasia are reviewed.