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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2010 Aug 15;247(1):10-7. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2010.05.006. Epub 2010 May 25.

Inhibition of connexin 43 gap junction channels by the endocrine disruptor ioxynil.

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Department of Cancer Prevention, Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital and Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.


Gap junctions are intercellular plasma membrane domains containing channels that mediate transport of ions, metabolites and small signaling molecules between adjacent cells. Gap junctions play important roles in a variety of cellular processes, including regulation of cell growth and differentiation, maintenance of tissue homeostasis and embryogenesis. The constituents of gap junction channels are a family of trans-membrane proteins called connexins, of which the best-studied is connexin 43. Connexin 43 functions as a tumor suppressor protein in various tissue types and is frequently dysregulated in human cancers. The pesticide ioxynil has previously been shown to act as an endocrine disrupting chemical and has multiple effects on the thyroid axis. Furthermore, both ioxynil and its derivative ioxynil octanoate have been reported to induce tumors in animal bioassays. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the possible tumorigenic effects of these compounds are unknown. In the present study we show that ioxynil and ioxynil octanoate are strong inhibitors of connexin 43 gap junction channels. Both compounds induced rapid loss of connexin 43 gap junctions at the plasma membrane and increased connexin 43 degradation. Ioxynil octanoate, but not ioxynil, was found to be a strong activator of ERK1/2. The compounds also had different effects on the phosphorylation status of connexin 43. Taken together, the data show that ioxynil and ioxynil octanoate are potent inhibitors of intercellular communication via gap junctions.

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