The role of connexins in breast cancer: from misregulated cell communication to aberrant intracellular signaling

Tissue Barriers. 2022 Jan 2;10(1):1962698. doi: 10.1080/21688370.2021.1962698. Epub 2021 Aug 6.


In spite of clinical advancements and improved diagnostic techniques, breast cancers are the leading cause of cancer-associated deaths in women worldwide. Although 70% of early breast cancers can be cured, there are no efficient therapies against metastatic breast cancers. Several factors including connexins and gap junctions play roles in breast tumorigenesis. Connexins are critical for cellular processes as a linkage between connexin mutations and hereditary disorders demonstrated their importance for tissue homeostasis. Further, alterations in their expression, localization and channel activities were observed in many cancers including breast cancer. Both channel-dependent and independent functions of connexins were reported in initiation and progression of cancers. Unlike initial reports suggesting tumor suppressor functions, connexins and gap junctions have stage, context and isoform dependent effects in breast cancers similar to other cancers. In this review, we tried to describe the current understanding of connexins in tumorigenesis specifically in breast cancers.

Keywords: Connexin; GJIC; breast cancer; cancer; gap junction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Cell Communication
  • Connexins* / genetics
  • Connexins* / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gap Junctions / genetics
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism
  • Gap Junctions / pathology
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction


  • Connexins

Grant support

This work was supported by the Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu [114Z874]; Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu [119Z294]; Türkiye Bilimler Akademisi [TUBA-GEBIP2017].