Gap junction messenger RNA expression by vascular wall cells.
Gap junctions between vessel wall cells provide a pathway for the intercellular exchange of ions and small molecules. Pure cultures of microvascular and macrovascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells, vascular pericytes, and several nonvascular cell lines were tested for junctional communication by fluorescent dye transfer. All of the vascular wall cells were capable of dye transfer. Since gap junctions are formed by a family of related proteins (connexins) whose unique domains may confer physiological regulatory properties, we tested total RNA from these cultures by Northern blot analysis for expression of the currently available, characterized, and cloned mammalian gap junction proteins: connexin26, connexin32, and connexin43. All of the vascular wall cells expressed connexin43 messenger RNA. Connexin43 was expressed in vascular cells from bovine, porcine, rat, and human sources. Several nonvascular cell lines of mesenchymal origin also expressed connexin43 messenger RNA. When high stringency Northern blots were used, messenger RNAs for connexin32 or connexin26 were not detected in any of the vascular wall cells but were expressed in several cell lines of epithelial origin. Freshly isolated and purified aortic endothelial and smooth muscle RNA preparations similarly contained only connexin43 messenger RNA, excluding the possibility of culture-induced alterations in gene expression. The expression of connexin43 by all vascular wall cells may provide a mechanism for the functional integration of the vessel wall by gap junctions.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association