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Neuroscience. 2004;126(3):611-30.

Connexin47, connexin29 and connexin32 co-expression in oligodendrocytes and Cx47 association with zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) in mouse brain.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 730 William Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 3J7.


Gap junctions between glial cells in mammalian CNS are known to contain several connexins (Cx), including Cx26, Cx30 and Cx43 at astrocyte-to-astrocyte junctions, and Cx29 and Cx32 on the oligodendrocyte side of astrocyte-to-oligodendrocyte junctions. Recent reports indicating that oligodendrocytes also express Cx47 prompted the present studies of Cx47 localization and relationships to other glial connexins in mouse CNS. In view of the increasing number of connexins reported to interact directly with the scaffolding protein zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), we investigated ZO-1 expression and Cx47/ZO-1 interaction capabilities in brain, spinal cord and Cx47-transfected HeLa cells. From counts of over 9000 oligodendrocytes labeled by immunofluorescence in various brain regions, virtually all of these cells were found to express Cx29, Cx32 and Cx47. Oligodendrocyte somata displayed robust Cx47-immunopositive puncta that were co-localized with punctate labeling for Cx32 and Cx43. By freeze-fracture replica immunogold labeling, Cx47 was abundant on the oligodendrocyte-side of oligodendrocyte/astrocyte gap junctions. By immunofluorescence, labeling for Cx47 along myelinated fibers was sparse in most brain regions, whereas Cx29 and Cx32 were previously found to be concentrated along these fibers. By immunogold labeling, Cx47 was found in numerous small gap junctions linking myelin to astrocytes, but not within deeper layers of myelin. Brain subcellular fractionation revealed a lack of Cx47 enrichment in myelin fractions, which nevertheless contained an enrichment of Cx32 and Cx29. Oligodendrocytes were immunopositive for ZO-1, and displayed almost total Cx47/ZO-1 co-localization. ZO-1 was found to co-immunoprecipitate with Cx47, and pull-down assays indicated binding of Cx47 to the second PDZ domain of ZO-1. Our results indicate widespread expression of Cx47 by oligodendrocytes, but with a distribution pattern in relative levels inverse to the abundance of Cx29 in myelin and paucity of Cx29 in oligodendrocyte somata. Further, our findings suggest a scaffolding and/or regulatory role of ZO-1 at the oligodendrocyte side of astrocyte-to-oligodendrocyte gap junctions.

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