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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2006 Mar;290(3):H1199-205. Epub 2005 Nov 11.

Connexin40 and connexin43 in mouse aortic endothelium: evidence for coordinated regulation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.


In the vessel wall, endothelial cells are metabolically and electrically coupled to each other and to the adjacent smooth muscle cells by gap junctions composed of connexins. Gap junctions may be formed from combinations of several different connexin proteins, and deletion of one connexin can lead to modification of the expression of another. To reveal a possible interaction between connexin40 (Cx40) and connexin43 (Cx43) in endothelium, we studied their distribution in vessels from C57Bl/6 and Cx40 knockout mice (Cx40-/-) using immunoblots and immunocytochemistry on aortic cross sections and en face whole mounts. En face preparations from C57Bl/6 mice revealed two distinct pools of Cx43, one pericellular and the other intracellular. Cx40 was largely restricted to the periphery of the cells, and in Cx40-/- mice it was, as expected, undetectable. In the Cx40-/- mice, total Cx43 protein was also modestly reduced (immunoblots), but there was a major redistribution of the protein within the cell. The pericellular component of Cx43 was rendered virtually undetectable, and the intracellular compartments were normal or even slightly elevated. Smooth muscle Cx43 was also reduced in the Cx40-/- animals. These findings indicate that the cellular distribution of Cx43 is dependent on the presence of Cx40, and in view of the profound effects on the pericellular pool of the Cx43, the findings suggest that interactions between Cx40 and Cx43 regulate communication between endothelial cells and perhaps between smooth muscle and endothelial cells as well.

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