Expression and Functionality of Connexin-Based Channels in Human Liver Cancer Cell Lines

Liver cancer cell lines are frequently used in vitro tools to test candidate anti-cancer agents as well as to elucidate mechanisms of liver carcinogenesis. Among such mechanisms is cellular communication mediated by connexin-based gap junctions. The present study investigated changes in connexin expression and gap junction functionality in liver cancer in vitro. For this purpose, seven human liver cancer cell lines, as well as primary human hepatocytes, were subjected to connexin and gap junction analysis at the transcriptional, translational and activity level. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis showed enhanced expression of connexin43 in the majority of liver cancer cell lines at the expense of connexin32 and connexin26. Some of these changes were paralleled at the protein level, as evidenced by immunoblot analysis and in situ immunocytochemistry. Gap junctional intercellular communication, assessed by the scrape loading/dye transfer assay, was generally low in all liver cancer cell lines. Collectively, these results provide a full scenario of modifications in hepatocyte connexin production and gap junction activity in cultured liver cancer cell lines. The findings may be valuable for the selection of neoplastic hepatocytes for future mechanistic investigation and testing of anti-cancer drugs that target connexins and their channels.

  • Authors: Kaat Leroy, Cícero Júlio Silva Costa, Alanah Pieters, Bruna dos Santos Rodrigues, Raf Van Campenhout, Axelle Cooreman, Andrés Tabernilla, Bruno Cogliati, and Mathieu Vinken
  • Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22: 12187.

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