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Eur J Cell Biol. 2009 Dec;88(12):719-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2009.08.003. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

TGF-beta1 down-regulates connexin 43 expression and gap junction intercellular communication in rat hepatic stellate cells.

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Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, 31 Biopolis Way, The Nanos, #04-01, Singapore 138669, Singapore.


Intercellular communication is an important tool used by the cells to effectively regulate concerted responses. Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) communicate to each other through functional gap junctions composed of connexin 43 (Cx43) proteins. We show that exogenous human TGF-beta1 (hTGF-beta1), a pro-fibrotic stimulus, decreases Cx43 mRNA and protein in a rat HSC cell line and primary HSCs. Furthermore, hTGF-beta1 increases the phosphorylation of Cx43 at serine 368. These effects lead to a decrease in the gap junction intercellular communication between the HSCs, as shown by gap-FRAP analysis. We also observe the binding of Snai1, from the nuclear extract of HSCs, to a Snai1 consensus sequence in the Cx43 promoter. In the same context, Snai1 siRNA transfection results in an up-regulation of Cx43 suggesting that TGF-beta1 may regulate Cx43 via Snai1. In addition, we demonstrate that the knockdown of Cx43 by siRNA transfection results in a slower proliferation of HSCs. These findings illuminate a new effect of TGF-beta1 in HSCs, namely the regulation of intercellular communication by affecting the expression level and the phosphorylation state of Cx43 through Snai1 signaling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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