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Protein Sci. 2006 Oct;15(10):2344-55.

Molecular dynamics and in vitro analysis of Connexin43: A new 14-3-3 mode-1 interacting protein.

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  • 1Natural Products and Cancer Biology Program, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, USA.


The interaction of cellular proteins with the gap junction protein Connexin43 (Cx43) is thought to form a dynamic scaffolding complex that functions as a platform for the assembly of signaling, structural, and cytoskeletal proteins. A high stringency Scansite search of rat Cx43 identified the motif containing Ser373 (S373) as a 14-3-3 binding site. The S373 motif and the second best mode-1 motif, containing Ser244 (S244), are conserved in rat, mouse, human, chicken, and bovine, but not in Xenopus or zebrafish Cx43. Docking studies of a mouse/rat 14-3-3 homology model with the modeled phosphorylated S373 or S244 peptide ligands or their serine-to-alanine mutants, S373A or S244A, revealed that the pS373 motif facilitated a greater number of intermolecular contacts than the pS244 motif, thus supporting a stronger 14-3-3 binding interaction with the pS373 motif. The alanine substitution also reduced more than half the number of intermolecular contacts between 14-3-3 and the S373 motif, emphasizing the phosphorylation dependence of this interaction. Furthermore, the ability of the wild-type or the S244A GST-Cx43 C-terminal fusion protein, but not the S373A fusion protein, to interact with either 14-3-3 or 14-3-3zeta in GST pull-down experiments clearly demonstrated that the S373 motif mediates the direct interaction between Cx43 and 14-3-3 proteins. Blocking growth factor-induced Akt activation and presumably any Akt-mediated phosphorylation of the S373 motif in ROSE 199 cells did not prevent the down-regulation of Cx43-mediated cell-cell communication, suggesting that an Akt-mediated interaction with 14-3-3 was not involved in the disruption of Cx43 function.

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