Cancer chemoprevention by connexins

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2002;21(3-4):199-216. doi: 10.1023/a:1021250624933.


Gap junctions, or connexons, are formed by connexin proteins and connect most cells in the body to form water-filled channels directly linking the cytoplasm. Among the molecules known to be transferred via junctions are cAMP, ATP, IP3 and glucose. Tumor cells are in general deficient in functional gap junctions either as a result of gene silencing, or failure to correctly process and assemble connexons. Tumor promoters inhibit function whereas certain cancer preventive agents increase junctional communication. When connexin expression in tumor cells is forced by introduction of exogenous genes or is increased by pharmacological agents, connexin expression reduces growth in suspension and growth as xenografts in nude mice. It is as yet unclear if in tumor cells these actions depend on junctional transfer of signal molecules or reflect some other function of these genes. Restoration of connexin function offers an exciting opportunity to delay tumor progression and inhibit metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors


  • Connexins