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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2015 Dec;89(Pt B):195-202. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2015.11.008. Epub 2015 Nov 6.

Relating specific connexin co-expression ratio to connexon composition and gap junction function.

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Imperial College, Hammersmith Campus, DuCane Road, London W12 0NN, UK. Electronic address:
Imperial College, Hammersmith Campus, DuCane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


Cardiac connexin 43 (Cx43), Cx40 and Cx45 are co-expressed at distinct ratios in myocytes. This pattern is considered a key factor in regulating the gap junction channels composition, properties and function and remains poorly understood. This work aims to correlate gap junction function with the connexin composition of the channels at accurate ratios Cx43:Cx40 and Cx43:Cx45. Rat liver epithelial cells that endogenously express Cx43 were stably transfected to induce expression of accurate levels of Cx40 or Cx45 that may be present in various areas of the heart (e.g. atria and ventricular conduction system). Induction of Cx40 does not increase the amounts of junctional connexins (Cx43 and Cx40), whereas induction of Cx45 increases the amounts of junctional connexins (Cx43 and Cx45). Interestingly, the non-junctional fraction of Cx43 remains unaffected upon induction of Cx40 and Cx45. Co-immunoprecipitation studies show low level of Cx40/Cx43 heteromerisation and undetectable Cx45/Cx43 heteromerisation. Functional characterisation shows that induction of Cx40 and Cx45 decreases Lucifer Yellow transfer. Electrical coupling is decreased by Cx45 induction, whereas it is decreased at low induction of Cx40 and increased at high induction. These data indicate a fine regulation of the gap junction channel make-up in function of the type and the ratio of co-expressed Cxs that specifically regulates chemical and electrical coupling. This reflects specific gap junction function in regulating impulse propagation in the healthy heart, and a pro-arrhythmic potential of connexin remodelling in the diseased heart.


Channel function; Connexin co-expression; Gap junction; Heteromerisation; Inducible expression

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