The aetiopathogenesis of urinary bladder tumours in cattle involves prolonged ingestion of bracken fern and infection by bovine papillomavirus types 1 or 2 (BPV-1/2). The oncogenic activity of BPV is largely associated with the major oncoprotein E5. Gap junctions are the only communicating junctions found in animal tissues and are composed of proteins known as connexins. Alterations in connexin expression have been associated with oncogenesis. The present study investigated biochemically and immunohistochemically the expression of connexin 43 in samples of normal (n=2), dysplastic (n=3) and neoplastic (n=23) bovine urothelium. The tumours included 10 carcinomas in situ, five papillary urothelial carcinomas and eight invasive urothelial carcinomas. Normal and dysplastic urothelium had membrane expression of connexin 43, but this was reduced in samples of carcinoma in situ. Papillary urothelial carcinomas showed moderate cytoplasmic and membrane labelling, while invasive carcinoma showed loss of connexin 43 expression.
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