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Exp Cell Res. 2001 Feb 15;263(2):193-201.

Cx32 but not Cx26 is associated with tight junctions in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Cancer Research Institute, Sapporo, 060-8556, Japan.


On freeze-fracture replicas, gap junctions are frequently colocalized with tight junctions. In this study, to elucidate the relationship between gap- and tight-junction proteins, we investigated the localization of gap-junction proteins Cx32 and Cx26 and tight-junction proteins occludin, claudin-1, ZO-1, and ZO-2 in primary cultured rat hepatocytes, using confocal laser microscopy. In hepatocytes cultured in 2% DMSO and 10(-7) M glucagon medium, Cx32- but not Cx26-immunoreactive lines were observed on the most subapical plasma membrane at cell borders, while on the basolateral membrane both Cx32- and Cx26-positive spots were colocalized. Occludin-, claudin-1-, ZO-1-, and ZO-2-immunoreactive lines were also linearly observed on the most subapical plasma membrane and were colocalized with only Cx32-immunoreactive lines. In freeze-fracture analysis, many small gap-junction plaques were observed within a well-developed tight-junction strand network. The fence function of tight junctions in the cells, as examined by diffusion of labeled sphingomyelin, was well maintained. We also carried out Western blotting for Cx32 following immunoprecipitation with anti-occludin, anti-claudin-1, or anti-ZO-1 antibodies. Cx32 was detectable in all immunoprecipitates. These results suggest that Cx32 gap junctions, but not those with Cx26, are closely coordinated with the expression and function of tight junctions in hepatocytes and that Cx32 gap-junction formation may affect cell polarity through modification of tight-junction expression.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

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