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Eur J Neurosci. 2011 Jul;34(2):263-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2011.07741.x. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Connexin26 expression in brain parenchymal cells demonstrated by targeted connexin ablation in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 745 Bannatyne Ave., Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3E 0J9.


Astrocytes are known to express the gap junction forming proteins connexin30 (Cx30) and connexin43 (Cx43), but it has remained controversial whether these cells also express connexin26 (Cx26). To investigate this issue further, we examined immunofluorescence labelling of glial connexins in wild-type vs. transgenic mice with targeted deletion of Cx26 in neuronal and glial cells (Cx26fl/fl:Nestin-Cre mice). The Cx26 antibodies utilized specifically recognized Cx26 and lacked cross reaction with highly homologous Cx30, as demonstrated by immunoblotting and immunofluorescence in Cx26-transfected and Cx30-transfected C6 glioma cells. Punctate immunolabelling of Cx26 with these antibodies was observed in leptomeninges and subcortical brain regions. This labelling was absent in subcortical areas of Cx26fl/fl:Nestin-Cre mice, but persisted in leptomeningeal tissues of these mice, thereby distinguishing localization of Cx26 between parenchymal and non-parenchymal tissue. In subcortical brain parenchyma, Cx26-positive puncta were often co-localized with astrocytic Cx43, and some were localized along astrocyte cell bodies and processes immunolabelled for glial fibrillary acidic protein. Cx26-positive puncta were also co-localized with punctate labelling of Cx47 around oligodendrocyte somata. Comparisons of Cx26 labelling in rodent species revealed a lower density of Cx26-positive puncta and a more restricted distribution in subcortical regions of mouse compared with rat brain, perhaps partly explaining reported difficulties in detection of Cx26 in mouse brain parenchyma using antibodies or Cx26 gene reporters. These results support our earlier observations of Cx26 expression in astrocytes and its ultrastructural localization in individual gap junction plaques formed between astrocytes as well as in heterotypic gap junctions between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.

© 2011 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2011 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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