Reduced expression of multiple gap junction proteins is a feature of cervical dysplasia


Cervical dysplasia is a premalignant lesion associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection which, over time, can turn cancerous. Previous studies have indicated that loss of gap junctions may be a feature of cervical cancer and premalignant dysplasia. Loss of the gap junction protein connexin43 has been demonstrated in dysplastic cervix, but other connexins have not been investigated.

In contrast we previously showed that HPV-associated cutaneous warts – and other hyperproliferative skin conditions – display a dramatic upregulation of certain connexins, in particular connexin26. By performing immunofluorescence staining after antigen retrieval of paraffin-embedded cervical tissue samples, this study reports for the first time that connexin26 and connexin30, in addition to connexin43, are expressed in differentiating cells of normal human cervical epithelia. Moreover, in dysplastic ectocervix, all connexins studied display a dramatic loss of expression compared to adjacent normal epithelia. The role of connexins in keratinocyte differentiation and carcinogenesis is discussed.