Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is overexpressed in ovarian carcinoma and acts as an autocrine factor selectively through the ETA receptor (ET AR) to promote tumor cell proliferation, survival, neovascularization, and invasiveness. Loss of gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) is critical for tumor progression by allowing the cells to escape growth control. Exposure of HEY and OVCA 433 ovarian carcinoma cell lines to ET-1 led to a 50-75% inhibition in intercellular communication and to a decrease in the connexin 43 (Cx43)-based gap junction plaques. To investigate the phosphorylation state of Cx43, ovarian carcinoma cell lysates were immunoprecipitated and transient tyrosine phosphorylation of Cx43 was detected in ET-1-treated cells. BQ 123, a selective ETAR antagonist, blocked the ET-1-induced Cx43 phosphorylation and cellular uncoupling. Gap junction closure was prevented by tyrphostin 25 and by the selective c-Src inhibitor, PP2. Furthermore, the increased Cx43 tyrosine phosphorylation was correlated with ET1-induced increase of c-Src activity, and PP2 suppressed the ET-1-induced Cx43 tyrosine phosphorylation, indicating that inhibition of Cx43-based GJIC is mainly mediated by the Src tyrosine kinase pathway. In vivo, the inhibition of human ovarian tumor growth in nude mice induced by the potent ETAR antagonist, ABT-627, was associated with a reduction of Cx43 phosphorylation. These findings indicate that the signaling mechanisms involved in GJIC disruption on ovarian carcinoma cells depend on ETAR activation, which leads to the Cx43 tyrosine phosphorylation mediated by c-Src, suggesting that ETAR blockade may contribute to the control of ovarian carcinoma growth and progression also by preventing the loss of GJIC.
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