Research Papers:

Reduction in gap junction intercellular communication promotes glioma migration

Qurratulain Aftab _, Wun-Chey Sin and Christian C. Naus

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:11447-11464. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3407

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Qurratulain Aftab1, Wun-Chey Sin1, Christian C. Naus1

1Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences, Life Sciences Institute, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Correspondence to:

Christian C. Naus, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: connexin, gap junction, glioma, migration

Received: July 15, 2014     Accepted: February 19, 2015     Published: March 19, 2015


Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of adult brain tumor, is difficult to treat due to its invasive nature. One of the molecular changes observed in GBM is a decrease in the expression of the gap junction protein Connexin43 (Cx43); however, how a reduction in Cx43 expression contributes to glioma malignancy is still unclear. In this study we examine whether a decrease in Cx43 protein expression has a role in enhanced cell migration, a key feature associated with increased tumorigenicity. We used a 3D spheroid migration model that mimics the in vivo architecture of tumor cells to quantify migration changes. We found that down-regulation of Cx43 expression in the U118 human glioma cell line increased migration by reducing cell-ECM adhesion, and changed the migration pattern from collective to single cell. In addition gap junction intercellular communication (GJIC) played a more prominent role in mediating migration than the cytoplasmic interactions of the C-terminal tail. Live imaging revealed that reducing Cx43 expression enhanced relative migration by increasing the cell speed and affecting the direction of migration. Taken together our findings reveal an unexplored role of GJIC in facilitating collective migration.

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