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Curr Biol. 1998 Jul 30-Aug 13;8(16):931-4.

The gap junction protein connexin43 interacts with the second PDZ domain of the zona occludens-1 protein.

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Division of Cellular Biochemistry The Netherlands Cancer Institute Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Gap junctions mediate cell-cell communication in almost all tissues and are composed of channel-forming integral membrane proteins, termed connexins [1-3]. Connexin43 (Cx43) is the most widely expressed and the most well-studied member of this family. Cx43-based cell-cell communication is regulated by growth factors and oncogenes [3-5], although the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood as cellular proteins that interact with connexins have yet to be identified. The carboxy-terminal cytosolic domain of Cx43 contains several phosphorylation sites and potential signalling motifs. We have used a yeast two-hybrid protein interaction screen to identify proteins that bind to the carboxy-terminal tail of Cx43 and thereby isolated the zona occludens-1 (ZO-1) protein. ZO-1 is a 220 kDa peripheral membrane protein containing multiple protein interaction domains including three PDZ domains and a Src homology 3 (SH3) domain [6-9]. The interaction of Cx43 with ZO-1 occurred through the extreme carboxyl terminus of Cx43 and the second PDZ domain of ZO-1. Cx43 associated with ZO-1 in Cx43-transfected COS7 cells, as well as endogenously in normal Rat-1 fibroblasts and mink lung epithelial cells. Confocal microscopy revealed that endogenous Cx43 and ZO-1 colocalised at gap junctions. We suggest that ZO-1 serves to recruit signalling proteins into Cx43-based gap junctions.

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