(1/2680) The bystander effect in the HSVtk/ganciclovir system and its relationship to gap junctional communication.

The bystander effect (BSE) is an interesting and important property of the herpes thymidine kinase/ganciclovir (hTK/GCV) system of gene therapy for cancer. With the BSE, not only are the hTK expressing cells killed upon ganciclovir (GCV) exposure but also neighboring wild-type tumor cells. On testing a large number of tumor cell lines in vitro, a wide range of sensitivity to bystander killing was found. Since transfer of toxic GCV metabolites from hTK-modified to wild-type tumor cells via gap junctions (GJ) seemed to be a likely mechanism of the BSE, we tested GJ function in these various tumors with a dye transfer technique and pharmacological agents known to affect GJ communication. We confirmed that mixtures of tumor cell resistant to the BSE did not show dye transfer from cell to cell while bystander-sensitive tumor cells did. Dieldrin, a drug known to decrease GJ communication, diminished dye transfer and also inhibited the BSE. Forskolin, an upregulator of cAMP did increase GJ, but directly inhibited hTK and therefore its effect on BSE could not be determined. We conclude that these observations further support port the concept that functional GJ play an important role in the BSE and further suggest that pharmacological manipulation of GJ may influence the outcome of cancer therapy with hTK/GCV.  (+info)

(2/2680) 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)

(3/2680) Morphogenesis of the Caenorhabditis elegans male tail tip.

Using electron microscopy and immunofluorescent labeling of adherens junctions, we have reconstructed the changes in cell architecture and intercellular associations that occur during morphogenesis of the nematode male tail tip. During late postembryonic development, the Caenorhabditis elegans male tail is reshaped to form a copulatory structure. The most posterior hypodermal cells in the tail define a specialized, sexually dimorphic compartment in which cells fuse and retract in the male, changing their shape from a tapered cone to a blunt dome. Developmental profiles using electron microscopy and immunofluorescent staining suggest that cell fusions are initiated at or adjacent to adherens junctions. Anterior portions of the tail tip cells show the first evidence of retractions and fusions, consistent with our hypothesis that an anterior event triggers these morphogenetic events. Available mutations that interfere with morphogenesis implicate particular regulatory pathways and suggest loci at which evolutionary changes could have produced morphological diversity.  (+info)

(4/2680) 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)

(5/2680) Chemical signaling from colonic smooth muscle cells to DRG neurons in culture.

Transduction mechanisms between target cells within the intestinal wall and peripheral terminals of extrinsic primary afferent neurons are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to characterize the interactions between smooth muscle cells from the rat distal colon and lumbar dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in coculture. DRG neurons visually appeared to make contact with several myocytes. We show that brief mechanical stimulation of these myocytes resulted in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) transients that propagated into 57% of the contacting neurites. Direct mechanical stimulation of DRG neurites cultured without smooth muscle had no effect. We also show that colonic smooth muscle cells express multiple connexin mRNAs and that these connexins formed functional gap junctions, as evidenced by the intercellular transfer of Lucifer yellow. Furthermore, thapsigargin pretreatment and neuronal heparin injection abolished the increase in neurite [Ca2+]i, indicating that the neuronal Ca2+ signal was triggered by inositol 1,4, 5-trisphosphate-mediated Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. Our results provide evidence for intercellular chemical communication between DRG neurites and intestinal smooth muscle cells that mediates the exchange of second messenger molecules between different cell types.  (+info)

(6/2680) 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)

(7/2680) Intracellular trafficking pathways in the assembly of connexins into gap junctions.

Trafficking pathways underlying the assembly of connexins into gap junctions were examined using living COS-7 cells expressing a range of connexin-aequorin (Cx-Aeq) chimeras. By measuring the chemiluminescence of the aequorin fusion partner, the translocation of oligomerized connexins from intracellular stores to the plasma membrane was shown to occur at different rates that depended on the connexin isoform. Treatment of COS-7 cells expressing Cx32-Aeq and Cx43-Aeq with brefeldin A inhibited the movement of these chimera to the plasma membrane by 84 +/- 4 and 88 +/- 4%, respectively. Nocodazole treatment of the cells expressing Cx32-Aeq and Cx43-Aeq produced 29 +/- 16 and 4 +/- 7% inhibition, respectively. In contrast, the transport of Cx26 to the plasma membrane, studied using a construct (Cx26/43T-Aeq) in which the short cytoplasmic carboxyl-terminal tail of Cx26 was replaced with the extended carboxyl terminus of Cx43, was inhibited 89 +/- 5% by nocodazole and was minimally affected by exposure of cells to brefeldin A (17 +/-11%). The transfer of Lucifer yellow across gap junctions between cells expressing wild-type Cx32, Cx43, and the corresponding Cx32-Aeq and Cx43-Aeq chimeras was reduced by nocodazole treatment and abolished by brefeldin A treatment. However, the extent of dye coupling between cells expressing wild-type Cx26 or the Cx26/43T-Aeq chimeras was not significantly affected by brefeldin A treatment, but after nocodazole treatment, transfer of dye to neighboring cells was greatly reduced. These contrasting effects of brefeldin A and nocodazole on the trafficking properties and intercellular dye transfer are interpreted to suggest that two pathways contribute to the routing of connexins to the gap junction.  (+info)

(8/2680) 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)