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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2004 Mar;286(3):C647-54. Epub 2003 Nov 5.

Mechanism of regulation of the gap junction protein connexin 43 by protein kinase C-mediated phosphorylation.

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  • 1Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0437, USA.


Phosphorylation of the gap junction protein connexin 43 (Cx43) by protein kinase C (PKC) decreases dye coupling in many cell types. We report an investigation of the regulation by PKC of Cx43 gap junctional hemichannels (GJH) expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. The activity of GJH was assessed from the uptake of hydrophilic fluorescent probes. PKC inhibitors increased probe uptake in isolated oocytes expressing recombinant Cx43, indicating that the regulatory effect occurs at the hemichannel level. We identified by mutational analysis the carboxy-terminal (CT) domain sequences involved in this response. We found that 1) Ser368 is responsible for the regulation of Cx43 GJH solute permeability by PKC-mediated phosphorylation, 2) CT domain residues 253-270 and 288-359 are not necessary for the effect of PKC, and 3) the prolinerich CT region is not involved in the effect of phosphorylation by PKC. Our results demonstrate that Ser368 (but not Ser372) is involved in the regulation of Cx43 solute permeability by PKC-mediated phosphorylation, and we conclude that different molecular mechanisms underlie the regulation of Cx43 by intracellular pH and PKC-mediated phosphorylation.

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