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J Cell Physiol. 1999 Apr;179(1):87-96.

Mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphorylation of connexin43 are not sufficient for the disruption of gap junctional communication by platelet-derived growth factor and tetradecanoylphorbol acetate.

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Molecular Medicine, Northwest Hospital, Seattle, Washington 98125, USA.


Disruption of gap junctional communication (GJC) by various compounds, including growth factors and tumor promoters, is believed to be modulated by the phosphorylation of a gap junctional protein, connexin43 (Cx43). We have previously demonstrated a platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-induced blockade of GJC and phosphorylation of Cx43 in T51B rat liver epithelial cells expressing wild-type PDGF receptor beta (PDGFr beta). Both of these actions of PDGF required participation of protein kinase C (PKC) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Similar requirements of MAPK were suggested in the modulation of GJC by other agents, including epidermal growth factor (EGF) and lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). Since many of these agents activate additional protein kinases, our present study examined whether activation of MAPK was sufficient for Cx43 phosphorylation and GJC blockade. By utilizing a variety of MAPK activators, we now show that activation of MAPK is not always associated with either Cx43 phosphorylation or disruption of GJC, which suggests a requirement for additional factors. Furthermore, pretreatment with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a potent MAPK activator but inefficient GJC/Cx43 modulator, abrogated PDGF- or TPA-induced disruption of GJC. While a 5 min H2O2 pretreatment abolished both PDGF- and TPA-induced Cx43 phosphorylation and GJC blockade, a simultaneous H2O2 treatment interfered only with GJC closure but not with the phosphorylation of Cx43 induced by PDGF and TPA. This finding indicates that, in addition to the Cx43 phosphorylation step, inhibition of GJC requires interaction with other components. H2O2-mediated abrogation of PDGF/TPA signaling can be neutralized by the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) or by the tyrosine kinase inhibitor genistein. Taken together, our results suggest that disruption of GJC is not solely mediated by either activated MAPK or Cx43 phosphorylation but requires the participation of additional kinases and regulatory components. This complex mode of regulation is perhaps essential for the proposed functional role of GJC.

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