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Exp Mol Pathol. 2001 Aug;71(1):34-9.

cAMP enhances Cx43 gap junction formation and function and reverses choline deficiency apoptosis.

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Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health and School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7400, USA.


Previously, it had been shown that acute choline deficiency (CD) induced apoptosis in cultured rat liver epithelial cells, whereas cells that are adapted to survive in low-choline-containing medium acquire resistance to CD apoptosis and undergo malignant transformation. Thus, understanding the mechanisms of action of CD could increase our understanding of the role of choline, an essential nutrient, in the process of malignant transformation. The present experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that CD might function as a pro-apoptotic trigger by altering the localization of connexin 43 gap junction protein and gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC). Established liver epithelial cells (WB cells; Hep3B cells) were maintained in a defined, serum-free medium control (70 microM choline) or choline deficient medium (CD, 5 microM choline) and the localization of connexin 43 protein (Cx43) was studied by immunocytochemistry and Western blotting. In nontumorigenic WB cells, CD apoptosis was associated with retention of Cx43 in the golgi/ER region of the cytoplasm and decreased GJIC as measured using a preloading fluorescent dye transfer method (calcein AM/DiIC(18)). Cells maintained in CD in the presence of 8-bromoadenosine 3':5'-cyclic monophosphate exhibited restoration of Cx43 at the plasma membrane and increased GJIC and inhibition of apoptosis. These studies show that CD apoptosis in nontumorigenic liver epithelial cells is associated with alterations to Cx43 and GJIC and that an uncoupling of Cx43 localization and GJIC is related to resistance to CD apoptosis in transformed liver epithelial cells.

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