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.