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J Immunol. 2013 May 1;190(9):4830-5. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1202884. Epub 2013 Apr 3.

Connexin43 is dispensable for phagocytosis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


Macrophages that lack connexin43 (Cx43), a gap junction protein, have been reported to exhibit dramatic deficiencies in phagocytosis. In this study, we revisit these findings using well-characterized macrophage populations. Cx43 knockout (Cx43(-/-)) mice die soon after birth, making the harvest of macrophages from adult Cx43(-/-) mice problematic. To overcome this obstacle, we used several strategies: mice heterozygous for the deletion of Cx43 were crossed to produce Cx43(+/+) (wild type [WT]) and Cx43(-/-) fetuses. Cells isolated from 12- to 14-d fetal livers were used to reconstitute irradiated recipient animals. After reconstitution, thioglycollate-elicited macrophages were collected by peritoneal lavage and bone marrow was harvested. Bone marrow cells and, alternatively, fetal liver cells were cultured in media containing M-CSF for 7-10 d, resulting in populations of cells that were >95% macrophages based on flow cytometry. Phagocytic uptake was detected using flow cytometric and microscopic techniques. Quantification of phagocytic uptake of IgG-opsonized sheep erythrocytes, zymosan particles, and Listeria monocytogenes failed to show any significant difference between WT and Cx43(-/-) macrophages. Furthermore, the use of particles labeled with pH-sensitive dyes showed equivalent acidification of phagosomes in both WT and Cx43(-/-) macrophages. Our findings suggest that modulation of Cx43 levels in cultured macrophages does not have a significant impact on phagocytosis.

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