Three-dimensional structure of a recombinant gap junction membrane channel.
Gap junction membrane channels mediate electrical and metabolic coupling between adjacent cells. The structure of a recombinant cardiac gap junction channel was determined by electron crystallography at resolutions of 7.5 angstroms in the membrane plane and 21 angstroms in the vertical direction. The dodecameric channel was formed by the end-to-end docking of two hexamers, each of which displayed 24 rods of density in the membrane interior, which is consistent with an alpha-helical conformation for the four transmembrane domains of each connexin subunit. The transmembrane alpha-helical rods contrasted with the double-layered appearance of the extracellular domains. Although not indicative for a particular type of secondary structure, the protein density that formed the extracellular vestibule provided a tight seal to exclude the exchange of substances with the extracellular milieu. (+info)
Gating connexin 43 channels reconstituted in lipid vesicles by mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation.
The regulation of gap junctional permeability by phosphorylation was examined in a model system in which connexin 43 (Cx43) gap junction hemichannels were reconstituted in lipid vesicles. Cx43 was immunoaffinity-purified from rat brain, and Cx43 channels were reconstituted into unilamellar phospholipid liposomes. The activities of the reconstituted channels were measured by monitoring liposome permeability. Liposomes containing the Cx43 protein were fractionated on the basis of permeability to sucrose using sedimentation in an iso-osmolar density gradient. The gradient allowed separation of the sucrose-permeable and -impermeable liposomes. Liposomes that were permeable to sucrose were also permeable to the communicating dye molecule lucifer yellow. Permeability, and therefore activity of the reconstituted Cx43 channels, were directly dependent on the state of Cx43 phosphorylation. The permeability of liposomes containing Cx43 channels was increased by treatment of liposomes with calf intestinal phosphatase. Moreover, liposomes formed with Cx43 that had been dephosphorylated by calf intestinal phosphatase treatment showed increased permeability to sucrose. The role of phosphorylation in the gating mechanism of Cx43 channels was supported further by the observation that phosphorylation of Cx43 by mitogen-activated protein kinase reversibly reduced the permeability of liposomes containing dephosphorylated Cx43. Our results show a direct correlation between gap junctional permeability and the phosphorylation state of Cx43. (+info)
Gap junction signalling mediated through connexin-43 is required for chick limb development.
During chick limb development the gap junction protein Connexin-43 (Cx43) is expressed in discrete spatially restricted domains in the apical ectodermal ridge (AER) and mesenchyme of the zone of polarising activity. Antisense oligonucleotides (ODNs) were used to investigate the role of Connexin-43 (Cx43) in the development of the chick limb bud. We have used unmodified ODNs in Pluronic F-127 gel, which is liquid at low temperature but sets at room temperature and so remains situated at the point of application. As a mild surfactant, the gel increases antisense ODN penetration and supplies ODNs to the embryo continually for 12-18 h. We have shown a strong decrease in Cx43 protein expression after application of specific antisense oligonucleotides but the abundance of a closely related protein, Connexin-32 (Cx32), was not affected. Application of antisense Cx43 ODNs at stages 8-15 HH before limb outgrowth resulted in dramatic limb phenotypes. About 40% of treated embryos exhibited defects such as truncation of the limb bud, fragmentation into two or more domains, or complete splitting of the limb bud into two or three branches. Molecular analysis of antisense treated embryos failed to detect Shh or Bmp-2 in anterior structures and suggested that extra lobes seen in nicked and split limbs were not a result of establishment of new signalling centres as found after the application of FGF to the flank. However, examination of markers for the AER showed a number of abnormalities. In severely truncated specimens we were unable to detect the expression of either Fgf-4 or Fgf-8. In both nicked and split limbs the expression of these genes was discontinuous. Down-regulation of Cx43 after the antisense application could be comparable to AER removal and results in distal truncation of the limb bud. Taken together these data suggest the existence of a feedback loop between the FGFs and signalling mediated by Cx43. (+info)
Spatial and temporal regulation of gap junction connexin43 in vascular endothelial cells exposed to controlled disturbed flows in vitro.
Hemodynamic regulation of the endothelial gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43) was studied in a model of controlled disturbed flows in vitro. Cx43 mRNA, protein expression, and intercellular communication were mapped to spatial variations in fluid forces. Hemodynamic features of atherosclerotic lesion-prone regions of the vasculature (flow separation and recirculation) were created for periods of 5, 16, and 30 h, with laminar shear stresses ranging between 0 and 13.5 dynes/cm2. Within 5 h, endothelial Cx43 mRNA expression was increased in all cells when compared with no-flow controls, with highest levels (up to 6- to 8-fold) expressed in regions of flow recirculation corresponding to high shear stress gradients. At 16 h, Cx43 mRNA expression remained elevated in regions of flow disturbance, whereas in areas of fully developed, undisturbed laminar flow, Cx43 expression returned to control levels. In all flow regions, typical punctate Cx43 immunofluorescence at cell borders was disrupted by 5 h. After 30 h of flow, disruption of gap junctions persisted in cells subjected to flow separation and recirculation, whereas regions of undisturbed flow were substantially restored to normal. These expression differences were reflected in sustained inhibition of intercellular communication (dye transfer) throughout the zone of disturbed flow (84.2 and 68.4% inhibition at 5 and 30 h, respectively); in contrast, communication was fully reestablished by 30 h in cells exposed to undisturbed flow. Up-regulation of Cx43 transcripts, sustained disorganization of Cx43 protein, and impaired communication suggest that shear stress gradients in regions of disturbed flow regulate intercellular communication through the expression and function of Cx43. (+info)
Upregulation of connexin 26 is a feature of keratinocyte differentiation in hyperproliferative epidermis, vaginal epithelium, and buccal epithelium.
In epidermis, it has been suggested, intercellular communication through gap junctions is important in coordinating cell behavior. The connexins, may facilitate selective assembly or permeability of gap junctions, influencing the distribution of metabolites between cells. Using immunohistochemistry, we have compared the distribution of connexins 26 and 43 with that of proliferating cells (Ki67 labeling) in normal epidermis, hyperplastic epidermis (tape-stripped epidermis, psoriatic lesions, and viral warts), and vaginal and buccal epithelia. Connexin 43 was abundant in spinous layers of all epidermal specimens and in vaginal and buccal epithelia. Connexin 26 was absent from the interfollicular and interductal epidermis of normal hair-bearing skin, and nonlesional psoriatic epidermis but present at very low levels in plantar epidermis. Connexin 26 was prominent in lesional psoriatic epidermis and viral warts and in vaginal and buccal epithelia. In three independent experiments connexin 26 appeared in a patchy intercellular distribution in the basal epidermis within 24 h of tape stripping, proceeding to more extensive distribution in basal and suprabasal layers by 48 h. The increase in connexin 26 preceded that in cell proliferation. In vaginal epithelium, buccal epithelium, and viral warts connexin 26 was restricted mainly to suprabasal, nonproliferating cells. In psoriatic lesional epidermis connexin 26 was also located mainly in suprabasal, nonproliferating cells. Connexin 26 was present in a patchy distribution in the basal layer of psoriatic lesional epidermis, but double labeling for connexin 26 and Ki67 showed that many connexin 26 positive basal cells were nonproliferative, suggesting that connexin 26 may be related to differentiation rather than to proliferation. These observations would be consistent with a role for connexin 26 containing gap junctions during both early and later stages of keratinocyte differentiation in hyperplastic epidermis and in vaginal and buccal epithelia. (+info)
Dissection of the molecular basis of pp60(v-src) induced gating of connexin 43 gap junction channels.
Suppression of gap-junctional communication by various protein kinases, growth factors, and oncogenes frequently correlates with enhanced mitogenesis. The oncogene v-src appears to cause acute closure of gap junction channels. Tyr265 in the COOH-terminal tail of connexin 43 (Cx43) has been implicated as a potential target of v-src, although v-src action has also been associated with changes in serine phosphorylation. We have investigated the mechanism of this acute regulation through mutagenesis of Cx43 expressed in Xenopus laevis oocyte pairs. Truncations of the COOH-terminal domain led to an almost complete loss of response of Cx43 to v-src, but this was restored by coexpression of the independent COOH-terminal polypeptide. This suggests a ball and chain gating mechanism, similar to the mechanism proposed for pH gating of Cx43, and K+ channel inactivation. Surprisingly, we found that v-src mediated gating of Cx43 did not require the tyrosine site, but did seem to depend on the presence of two potential SH3 binding domains and the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase phosphorylation sites within them. Further point mutagenesis and pharmacological studies in normal rat kidney (NRK) cells implicated MAP kinase in the gating response to v-src, while the stable binding of v-src to Cx43 (in part mediated by SH3 domains) did not correlate with its ability to mediate channel closure. This suggests a common link between closure of gap junctions by v-src and other mitogens, such as EGF and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). (+info)
Are human placental bed giant cells merely aggregates of small mononuclear trophoblast cells? An ultrastructural and immunocytochemical study.
The ultrastructure of placental bed giant cells in early human pregnancies of 7-12 weeks gestational age is described. Their nature and function was further characterized by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy of paraffin sections labelled for cytokeratin, gap junction connexins (CX) 32 or 43, and placental hormones, alpha-human chorionic gonadotrophin (alpha-HCG) and human placental lactogen (HPL). Placental bed giant cells were observed with two phenotypes; as single large trophoblast cells containing one or more nuclear profiles in a voluminous cytoplasm, and as cell aggregates comprising mononuclear trophoblast cells in close apposition separated by narrow intercellular spaces. Cells within the aggregates are attached to one another by desmosomes, and also possess gap junctions as shown by immunolabelling for CX32 and CX43. By contrast, gap junctions were absent in the true multinucleated giant cells. Organelles present within the cytoplasm of the giant cells and their immunoreactivity for HPL and alpha-HCG suggest protein synthesis. (+info)
Disruption of gap junctional communication by the platelet-derived growth factor is mediated via multiple signaling pathways.
The platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) mediates its cellular functions via activation of its receptor tyrosine kinase followed by the recruitment and activation of several signaling molecules. These signaling molecules then initiate specific signaling cascades, finally resulting in distinct physiological effects. To delineate the PDGF signaling pathway responsible for the disruption of gap junctional communication (GJC), wild-type PDGF receptor beta (PDGFRbeta) and a series of PDGFRbeta mutants were expressed in T51B rat liver epithelial cells. In cells expressing wild-type PDGFRbeta, PDGF induced disruption of GJC and phosphorylation of a gap junctional protein, connexin-43 (Cx43), which required activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, although involvement of additional factors was also evident. In the F5 mutant lacking binding sites for phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, GTPase-activating protein, SHP-2, and phospholipase Cgamma1 (PLCgamma1), PDGF induced mitogen-activated protein kinase, but failed to affect GJC or Cx43, indicating involvement of additional signals presumably initiated by one or more of the mutated binding sites. Examination of the single-site mutants revealed that PDGF effects were not mediated via a single signaling component. This was confirmed by the "add-back" mutants, which showed that restoration of either SHP-2 or PLCgamma1 binding was sufficient to propagate the GJC inhibitory actions of PDGF. Further analysis showed that activation of PLCgamma1 is involved in Cx43 phosphorylation, which surprisingly failed to correlate with GJC blockade. The results of our study demonstrate that PDGF-induced disruption of GJC can be mediated by multiple signaling pathways and requires participation of multiple components. (+info)