The role of connexin-mediated cell-cell communication in breast cancer metastasis

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2001 Oct;6(4):431-40. doi: 10.1023/a:1014787014851.


Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) is a form of cell-cell communication mediating the exchange of small molecules between neighboring cells. Gap junctions (GJs) are formed by connexins (Cxs), and are subject to tight and dynamic regulation. They are involved in the cell cycle, differentiation, and cell signaling. The loss of Cxs and GJs is a hallmark of carcinogenesis, while their induction in cancer cells leads to a reversal of the cancer phenotype, induction of differentiation, and regulation of cell growth. On the basis of the observations about Cx loss in breast cancer, this review examines Cxs' involvement in breast cancer metastasis. Previous work indicates that Cx expression is inversely correlated to metastatic potential. This is probably because of the loss of cooperation between neighboring cells, leading to cell heterogeneity and cell dissociation in the tumor. The possible involvement of Cx activity during metastasis will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Connexins / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis


  • Connexins