1α-25(OH)2vitamin D3(1-25D), an active hormonal form of Vitamin D3, is a well-known chemopreventive and pro-differentiating agent. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of several prostate cancer cell lines. Gap junctions, formed of proteins called connexins (Cx), are ensembles of cell-cell channels, which permit the exchange of small growth regulatory molecules between adjoining cells. Cell-cell communication mediated by gap junctional channels is an important homeostatic control mechanism for regulating cell growth and differentiation. We have investigated the effect of 1-25D on the formation and degradation of gap junctions in an androgen-responsive prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP, which expresses retrovirally-introduced Cx32. Connexin32 is expressed by the luminal and well-differentiated cells of normal prostate and prostate tumors. Our results document that 1-25D enhances the expression of Cx32 and its subsequent assembly into gap junctions. Our results further show that 1-25D prevents androgen-regulated degradation of Cx32, post-translationally, independent of androgen receptor (AR)-mediated signaling. Finally, our findings document that formation of gap junctions sensitizes Cx32-expressing LNCaP cells to the growth inhibitory effects of 1-25D and alters their morphology. These findings suggest that the growth-inhibitory effects of 1-25D in LNCaP cells may be related to its ability to modulate the assembly of Cx32 into gap junctions.
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