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Dev Biol. 2009 Mar 15;327(2):410-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.12.027. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

Connexin43 regulates joint location in zebrafish fins.

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Lehigh University, Department of Biological Sciences, 111 Research Drive, Iacocca B-217, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA.


Joints are essential for skeletal form and function, yet their development remains poorly understood. In zebrafish fins, joints form between the bony fin ray segments providing essentially unlimited opportunities to evaluate joint morphogenesis. Mutations in cx43 cause the short segment phenotype of short fin (sof(b123)) mutants, suggesting that direct cell-cell communication may regulate joint location. Interestingly, increased cx43 expression in the another long fin (alf(dty86)) mutant appears to cause joint failure typical of that mutant. Indeed, knockdown of cx43 in alf(dty86) mutant fins rescues joint formation. Together, these data reveal a correlation between the level of Cx43 expression in the fin ray mesenchyme and the location of joints. Cx43 was also observed laterally in cells associated with developing joints. Confocal microscopy revealed that the Cx43 protein initially surrounds the membranes of ZNS5-positive joint cells, but at later stages becomes polarized toward the underlying Cx43-positive mesenchymal cells. One possibility is that communication between the Cx43-positive mesenchyme and the overlying ZNS5-positive cells regulates joint location, and upregulation of Cx43 in joint-forming cells contributes to joint morphogenesis.

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