The affects of Mgat5 modified glycoproteins and galectin-3 on the expression, phosphorylation and function of connexins

Cells in the human body are not isolated entities; in fact, they engage in a considerable amount of ‘cross talk’ with other nearby cells. In the most direct form of communication, protein channels pass through the membranes around neighboring cell, allowing small molecules to pass back and forth. These channels, called “gap junctions”, are made up of proteins called “connexins.” Of interest to researchers is the discovery that production of connexins is reduced in aggressive cancers compared to the surrounding tissue. It is due to observations such as this which has led scientists to believe that connexins do more than just form “tunnels” between cells. Stephen Bond is examining the link between connexin 43, the most common form of connexin, and an enzyme called Mgat5. Too much Mgat5 encourages tumour growth, and “knocking out” this enzyme (making it inoperative) increases the amount of connexin 43 protein made. Bond wants to determine whether an increase in Mgat5 increases tumour growth by decreasing connexin 43, and if so, determine how this occurs. This research could identify yet another way in which cells become cancerous, thus increasing our understanding of this class of disease, and hopefully lead to more effective treatments for cancer patients in the future.