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Cardiovasc Res. 2009 Sep 1;83(4):672-81. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvp142. Epub 2009 May 7.

Phosphorylation of connexin-43 at serine 262 promotes a cardiac injury-resistant state.

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Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St Boniface Research Centre, 351 Taché Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R2H 2A6.



The cardioprotective agent fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2) was found previously to promote phosphorylation of connexin-43 (Cx43) at protein kinase C (PKC) sites such as serine (S) 262 at levels above those of non-stimulated hearts. We asked if other PKC-dependent cardioprotective treatments cause a similar effect, and if Cx43 phosphorylation at S262 mediates resistance to injury.


Isolated perfused adult rat hearts were subjected to the following treatments: ischaemic preconditioning (PC); diazoxide perfusion; FGF-2 pre-treatment followed by 30 min global ischaemia; 30 min global ischaemia followed by 60 min reperfusion in the presence or absence of FGF-2. Cx43 phosphorylation was assessed by western blotting with phospho-specific antibodies. Neonatal cardiomyocyte cultures were used to examine the effect of expressing Cx43 incapable of being phosphorylated at S262 due to an S to alanine (A) substitution on simulated ischaemia-induced cell death (TUNEL staining) and injury (lactic dehydrogenase release). Ischaemic PC, diazoxide, and FGF-2 pre-ischaemic or post-ischaemic treatments elicited a P Cx43 state, defined as above-physiological levels of phospho-S262-Cx43 and phospho-S368-Cx43. P Cx43 was sustained during global ischaemia and was accompanied by attenuation of ischaemia-induced Cx43 dephosphorylation and prevention of Cx43 lateralization. Post-ischaemic FGF-2 treatment also diminished dephosphorylated Cx43. Modest overexpression of S262A-Cx43, but not wild-type Cx43, exacerbated cardiomyocyte death and injury caused by simulated ischaemia in vitro. It also prevented the cytoprotective effects of FGF-2 or overexpressed PKCepsilon.


P Cx43 marks a state of enhanced resistance to ischaemic injury promoted by PKC-activating treatments such as FGF-2 administration or ischaemic PC. Cx43 phosphorylation at S262 likely mediates PKCepsilon-dependent cardioprotection.

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