Role of connexin 43 in cadmium-induced proliferation of human prostate epithelial cells

Connexins (Cxs), the subunits of gap junction channels, are involved in many physiological processes. Aberrant control of Cxs and gap junction intercellular communication may contribute to many diseases, including the promotion of cancer. Cd exposure is associated with increased risk of human prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. The roles of Cxs in the effects of Cd on the prostate have, however, not been reported previously. In this study, the human prostate epithelial cell line RWPE-1 was exposed to Cd. A low dose of Cd stimulated cell proliferation along with a lower degree of gap junction intercellular communication and an elevated level of the protein Cx43. Cd exposure increased the levels of intracellular Ca2+ and phosphorylated Cx43 at the Ser368 site. Knockdown of Cx43 using siRNA blocked Cd-induced proliferation and interfered with the Cd-induced changes in the protein levels of cyclin D1, cyclin B1, p27Kip1 (p27) and p21Waf1/Cip1 (p21). The increase in Cx43 expression induced by Cd was presumably mediated by the androgen receptor, because it was abolished upon treatment with the androgen receptor antagonist, flutamide. Thus, a low dose of Cd promotes cell proliferation in RWPE-1, possibly mediated by Cx43 expression through an effect on cell cycle-associated proteins. Cx43 might be a target for prostatic diseases associated with Cd exposure.

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S1908 Flutamide Flutamide (SCH-13521) is an antiandrogen drug, with its active metablolite binding at androgen receptor with Ki values of 55 nM, and primarily used to treat prostate cancer. (13) (2)

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