Journal Article

Emergence of undifferentiated rat tracheal cell carcinomas, but not squamous cell carcinomas, is associated with a loss of expression of E-cadherin and of gap junction communication.

M Terzaghi-Howe, G W Chang and D Popp

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 18, issue 11, pages 2043-2050
Published in print November 1997 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online November 1997 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/18.11.2043
Emergence of undifferentiated rat tracheal cell carcinomas, but not squamous cell carcinomas, is associated with a loss of expression of E-cadherin and of gap junction communication.

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A series of cells representing normal, non-tumorigenic cell lines, as well as differentiating neoplastic and undifferentiated neoplastic rat tracheal epithelial cell populations were evaluated for their ability to establish homologous and/or heterologous cell-cell gap junction communication in culture. Gap junction communication was evaluated by flow cytometric quantitation of the transfer of the fluorescent dye calcein from a donor to a recipient cell population via gap junctions. The data indicate that normal primary cultures of rat tracheal epithelial cells, as well as non-tumorigenic cell lines and squamous cell carcinomas cell populations, retain the ability to establish both homologous and heterologous gap junction communication. In all cases an average of >48% of recipient cells had acquired calcein label during a 5-h interval of co-culture of donor and recipient cells at confluent densities. Cells harvested directly from squamous cell carcinoma tumors exhibited similar levels of cell-cell communication. In contrast, cells giving rise to undifferentiated carcinomas, as well as cells harvested from undifferentiated carcinomas, exhibited very low levels or no homologous or heterologous cell-cell communication. Cell populations exhibiting distinctly different communication phenotypes were evaluated by Northern blot analysis for expression of connexins (Cx 26, 32 and 43) and E-cadherin. Neither communicating nor non-communicating cells expressed connexin 32. Those cell populations, which established functional gap junctions, expressed E-cadherin as well as connexin 26 and/or 43. In contrast, those cell populations that lacked the ability to communicate universally lacked expression of E-cadherin, and a quarter also lacked expression of detectable levels of connexin.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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