Coexpression of Connexins 40 and 43 Enhances the pH Sensitivity of Gap Junctions
A Model for Synergistic Interactions Among Connexins
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Abstract—Gap junctions are formed by oligomerization of a protein called connexin. Most cells express more than one connexin isotype. Atrial myocytes, for example, coexpress connexin (Cx) 40 and Cx43. The consequence of connexin coexpression on the regulation of gap junctions is not well understood. In the present study, we show that cells coexpressing Cx40 and Cx43 are more susceptible to acidification-induced uncoupling than those cells expressing only one connexin isotype. Xenopus oocytes were injected with mRNA for Cx40, Cx43, or a combination of both. Intracellular pH and junctional conductance were simultaneously measured while cells were progressively acidified by superfusion with a bicarbonate-buffered solution gassed with increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide. The data show that the pKa (ie, the pH at which junctional conductance decreased to 50% from maximum) shifted from ≈6.7 when cells expressed only Cx40 or only Cx43 to ≈7.0 when one of the oocytes was coexpressing both connexins. Truncation of the carboxyl terminal domains of the connexins caused the loss of pH sensitivity even after coexpression. The data are interpreted on the basis of previous studies from our laboratory that demonstrated heterodomain interactions in the regulation of Cx40 and Cx43 gap junctions. The possible implications of these findings on the regulation of native gap junctions that express both connexins remain to be determined. The full text of this article is available at http://www.circresaha.org.
- Received April 26, 2000.
- Accepted May 8, 2000.
- © 2000 American Heart Association, Inc.