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J Cell Sci. 2014 Mar 1;127(Pt 5):1104-16. doi: 10.1242/jcs.143743. Epub 2014 Jan 10.

Vinculin directly binds zonula occludens-1 and is essential for stabilizing connexin-43-containing gap junctions in cardiac myocytes.

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  • 1Veterans Administration Healthcare San Diego, San Diego, CA 92161, USA.


Vinculin (Vcl) links actin filaments to integrin- and cadherin-based cellular junctions. Zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1, also known as TJP1) binds connexin-43 (Cx43, also known as GJA1), cadherin and actin. Vcl and ZO-1 anchor the actin cytoskeleton to the sarcolemma. Given that loss of Vcl from cardiomyocytes causes maldistribution of Cx43 and predisposes cardiomyocyte-specific Vcl-knockout mice with preserved heart function to arrhythmia and sudden death, we hypothesized that Vcl and ZO-1 interact and that loss of this interaction destabilizes gap junctions. We found that Vcl, Cx43 and ZO-1 colocalized at the intercalated disc. Loss of cardiomyocyte Vcl caused parallel loss of ZO-1 from intercalated dics. Vcl co-immunoprecipitated Cx43 and ZO-1, and directly bound ZO-1 in yeast two-hybrid studies. Excision of the Vcl gene in neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes caused a reduction in the amount of Vcl mRNA transcript and protein expression leading to (1) decreased protein expression of Cx43, ZO-1, talin, and β1D-integrin, (2) reduced PI3K activation, (3) increased activation of Akt, Erk1 and Erk2, and (4) cardiomyocyte necrosis. In summary, this is the first study showing a direct interaction between Vcl and ZO-1 and illustrates how Vcl plays a crucial role in stabilizing gap junctions and myocyte integrity.


Cardiac myocyte; Gap junction; Heart; Vcl; Vinculin; ZO-1; Zonula occludens-1

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