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Arsenic is known as a well-established human carcinogen. Gap Junction Protein Alpha 1 (GJA1) is a multifunction protein that forms gap junction channels and is important for intercellular communication. Recently, its aberrant expression has been shown to associate with cancer recurrence and metastatic spread. However, whether GJA1 plays a role in arsenic carcinogenesis remains unknown. Here, we demonstrated that chronic exposure of human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells to sodium arsenite promoted epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) via increasing the expression of EMT inducer S100A4 and activation of MAPK/ERK signaling. In vitro and in vivo experiments showed that chronic exposure to sodium arsenite reduced GJA1 expression. Forced expression of GJA1 inhibited sodium arsenite-induced EMT via suppressing MAPK/ERK signaling whereas GJA1 knockdown produced an opposite effect. Intriguingly, chronic exposure to sodium arsenite increased autophagy flux. Inhibition of autophagy by pharmacological intervention or genetic deletion of autophagy core gene Beclin-1 upregulated GJA1 expression. These results suggested that GJA1 restrained the carcinogenic effect of sodium arsenite by limiting MAPK/ERK signaling, and GJA1 expression was decreased by arsenic-activated autophagy. In addition, interventions directed at enhancing the level or functional activity of GJA1 could be of preventive and therapeutic interest. Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Linqing Wu, Zengbin Wang, Xiaoli He, Yayuan Jiang, Ruizhu Pan, Shi Chen, Yizhong Chen, Yanfei Han, Huahui Yu, Tao Zhang. GJA1 reverses arsenic-induced EMT via modulating MAPK/ERK signaling pathway. Toxicology and applied pharmacology. 2022 Sep 01;450:116138

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PMID: 35750204

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