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Cancer Res. 2007 Feb 15;67(4):1545-54.

Tumor-suppressive effects of pannexin 1 in C6 glioma cells.

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Departments of Cellular and Physiological Sciences and Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Mammalian gap junction proteins, connexins, have long been implicated in tumor suppression. Recently, a novel family of proteins named pannexins has been identified as the mammalian counterpart of the invertebrate gap junction proteins, innexins. To date, pannexin 1 (Panx1) and pannexin 2 (Panx2) mRNAs are reported to be expressed in the brain. Most neoplastic cells, including rat C6 gliomas, exhibit reduced connexin expression, aberrant gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC), and an increased proliferation rate. When gap junctions are up-regulated by transfecting C6 cells with connexin43, GJIC is restored and the proliferation is reduced. In this study, we examined the tumor-suppressive effects of Panx1 expression in C6 cells. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis revealed that C6 cells do not express any of the pannexin transcripts, whereas its nontumorigenic counterpart, rat primary astrocytes, exhibited mRNAs for all three pannexins. On generation of stable C6 transfectants with tagged Panx1 [myc or enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)], a localization of Panx1 expression to the Golgi apparatus and plasma membrane was observed. In addition, Panx1 transfectants exhibited a flattened morphology, which differs greatly from the spindle-shaped control cells (EGFP only). Moreover, Panx1 expression increased gap junctional coupling as shown by the passage of sulforhodamine 101. Finally, we showed that stable expression of Panx1 in C6 cells significantly reduced cell proliferation in monolayers, cell motility, anchorage-independent growth, and in vivo tumor growth in athymic nude mice. Altogether, we conclude that the loss of pannexin expression may participate in the development of C6 gliomas, whereas restoration of Panx1 plays a tumor-suppressive role.

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