The expression levels of connexin (Cx) proteins, which are gap junction (GJ) components, are often decreased in many cancers, and restoring their levels has been shown to have antitumor effects. Previously, dysfunctional gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) has been observed in several malignant mesotheliomas (MMs), and among the many Cx proteins, Cx43 is prominently expressed in nontumorigenic mesothelial tissues. Therefore, we investigated whether Cx43 upregulation has an antitumor effect on an MM cell line (H28 cell), especially with regard to drug resistance. After treatment with the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin (CDDP), MM cell viability significantly decreased, and apoptosis induction was observed in Cx43-transfected clones. A specific GJIC inhibitor could not abrogate this effect. On the other hand, the Src protein is known to phosphorylate Cx43, which results in GJIC inhibition. This suggests that Src activity might also be regulated by the hyperexpression of Cx43. In fact, the Src protein level was decreased in Cx43-transfected clones. Moreover, Src inhibition reinforced CDDP cytotoxicity in parental H28 cells. These data suggest that Cx43 could improve the resistance to CDDP in a GJIC-independent manner, which may be partly mediated by the suppression of Src activity.
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