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J Membr Biol. 2012 Jul;245(7):411-22. doi: 10.1007/s00232-012-9465-z. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Cx43 associates with Na(v)1.5 in the cardiomyocyte perinexus.

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Department of Regenerative Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Ave, CRI Room 616, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Gap junctions (GJs) are aggregates of channels that provide for direct cytoplasmic connection between cells. Importantly, this connection is thought responsible for cell-to-cell transfer of the cardiac action potential. The GJ channels of ventricular myocytes are composed of connexin43 (Cx43). Interaction of Cx43 with zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) is localized not only at the GJ plaque, but also to the region surrounding the GJ, the perinexus. Cx43 in the perinexus is not detectable by immunofluorescence, yet localization of Cx43/ZO-1 interaction to this region indicated the presence of Cx43. Therefore, we hypothesized that Cx43 occurs in the perinexus at a lower concentration per unit membrane than in the GJ itself, making it difficult to visualize. To overcome this, the Duolink protein-protein interaction assay was used to detect Cx43. Duolink labeling of cardiomyocytes localized Cx43 to the perinexus. Quantification demonstrated that signal in the perinexus was lower than in the GJ but significantly higher than in nonjunctional regions. Additionally, Duolink of Triton X-100-extracted cultures suggested that perinexal Cx43 is nonjunctional. Importantly, the voltage gated sodium channel Na(v)1.5, which is responsible for initiation of the action potential, was found to interact with perinexal Cx43 but not with ZO-1. This work provides a detailed characterization of the structure of the perinexus at the GJ edge and indicates that one of its potential functions in the heart may be in facilitating conduction of action potential.

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