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Circ Res. 1995 Mar;76(3):381-7.

Expression of multiple connexins in cultured neonatal rat ventricular myocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110.


Three gap junction proteins have been identified in mammalian cardiac myocytes: connexin43 (Cx43), connexin45 (Cx45), and connexin40 (Cx40). These proteins form channels with different electrophysiological properties and have different distributions in cardiac tissues with disparate conduction properties. We characterized the expression, phosphorylation, turnover, and subcellular distribution of these connexins in primary cultures of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes. Cx43, Cx45, and Cx40 mRNA were specifically detected in RNA blots. Immunofluorescent staining with antibodies specific for Cx43 and Cx45 revealed punctate labeling at appositional membranes, but no immunoreactive Cx40 was detected. Double-label immunofluorescence confocal microscopy of cultured myocytes revealed colocalization of Cx43 and Cx45. Cx43 and Cx45 were both identified by immunoprecipitation from [35S]methionine-labeled cultures, but anti-Cx40 antibodies did not precipitate any radiolabeled protein. Phosphorylated forms of both Cx45 and Cx43 were immunoprecipitated from cultures metabolically labeled with [32P]orthophosphate. Phosphoamino acid analysis demonstrated that Cx45 was modified on serine residues, and Cx43 was phosphorylated on serine and threonine residues. Pulse-chase labeling experiments demonstrated that the half-lives of Cx43 and Cx45 were 1.9 and 2.9 hours, respectively. Thus, both Cx43 and Cx45 turn over relatively rapidly, suggesting that myocardial gap junctions have the potential for dynamic remodeling. The results implicate multiple mechanisms of gap junction regulation that may differ for different connexins.

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