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J Cell Sci. 2003 Mar 1;116(Pt 5):875-85.

The organization of adherens junctions and desmosomes at the cardiac intercalated disc is independent of gap junctions.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Adherens junctions and desmosomes are responsible for mechanically coupling myocytes in the heart and are found closely apposed to gap junction plaques at the intercalated discs of cardiomyocytes. It is not known whether loss of cardiac gap junctions, such as described in cardiac disease states, may influence the expression patterns of other intercalated disc-associated proteins. We investigated whether the major cardiac gap junction protein connexin43 (Cx43) may be responsible for regulating adherens junctions, desmosomes and their associated catenins, in terms of abundance and localization at the intercalated discs of cardiomyocytes. In order to study the effect of loss of cardiac gap junctions on the intercalated disc-associated proteins, we used a combination of immunoblotting, immunofluorescence with confocal microscopy and electron microscopy to evaluate heart tissue from mice with cardiac-specific conditional knockout of Cx43. We found that the cardiac adherens junctions, desmosomes and their associated catenins, as well as vinculin and ZO-1, maintain their normal abundance, structural appearance and localization in the absence of Cx43. We conclude from these data that Cx43 is not required for the organization of the cell adhesion junctions and their associated catenins at the intercalated disc in the adult cardiac myocyte.

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