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Dev Dyn. 2005 Jul;233(3):890-906.

Developmental regulation and expression of the zebrafish connexin43 gene.

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Laboratory of Developmental Biology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA.


We cloned and sequenced the zebrafish (Danio rerio) connexin43 (Cx43alpha1) gene. The predicted protein sequence shows a high degree of sequence conservation. Transcript analyses revealed multiple transcription start sites and a potential alternative transcript encoding a N-terminally truncated Cx43alpha1 protein. Maternal Cx43alpha1 transcripts were detected, with zygotic expression initiated before gastrulation. In situ hybridization revealed many Cx43alpha1 expression domains, including the notochord and brain, heart and vasculature, many resembling patterns seen in mammalian embryos. Of interest, a reporter construct under control of the mouse Cx43alpha1 promoter was observed to drive green fluorescent protein expression in zebrafish embryos in domains mimicking the native Cx43alpha1 expression pattern in fish and mice. Sequence comparison between the mouse and zebrafish Cx43alpha1 promoter sequences showed the conservation of several transcription factor motifs, which otherwise shared little overall sequence homology. The conservation of protein sequence and developmental gene regulation would suggest that Cx43alpha1 gap junctions are likely to have conserved roles in vertebrate embryonic development.

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