The Novel Roles of Connexin Channels and Tunneling Nanotubes in Cancer Pathogenesis.

TitleThe Novel Roles of Connexin Channels and Tunneling Nanotubes in Cancer Pathogenesis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsValdebenito, S, Lou, E, Baldoni, J, Okafo, G, Eugenin, EA
JournalInt J Mol Sci
Date Published04/2018
KeywordsAnimals, Artificial Intelligence, Cell Communication, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic, Connexins, Disease Progression, Disease Susceptibility, Drug Discovery, Energy Metabolism, gap junctions, Humans, Machine Learning, Microtubules, Neoplasms, Signal Transduction

Neoplastic growth and cellular differentiation are critical hallmarks of tumor development. It is well established that cell-to-cell communication between tumor cells and "normal" surrounding cells regulates tumor differentiation and proliferation, aggressiveness, and resistance to treatment. Nevertheless, the mechanisms that result in tumor growth and spread as well as the adaptation of healthy surrounding cells to the tumor environment are poorly understood. A major component of these communication systems is composed of connexin (Cx)-containing channels including gap junctions (GJs), tunneling nanotubes (TNTs), and hemichannels (HCs). There are hundreds of reports about the role of Cx-containing channels in the pathogenesis of cancer, and most of them demonstrate a downregulation of these proteins. Nonetheless, new data demonstrate that a localized communication via Cx-containing GJs, HCs, and TNTs plays a key role in tumor growth, differentiation, and resistance to therapies. Moreover, the type and downstream effects of signals communicated between the different populations of tumor cells are still unknown. However, new approaches such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could provide new insights into these signals communicated between connected cells. We propose that the identification and characterization of these new communication systems and their associated signaling could provide new targets to prevent or reduce the devastating consequences of cancer.

Alternate JournalInt J Mol Sci
PubMed ID29695070
PubMed Central IDPMC5983846
Grant ListR01 MH096625 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R01 NS105584 / NS / NINDS NIH HHS / United States