Connexin40 and connexin43 determine gating properties of atrial gap junction channels

Department of Pharmacology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.
Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology (Impact Factor: 5.22). 05/2009; 48(1):238-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2009.05.014
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT While ventricular gap junctions contain only Cx43, atrial gap junctions contain both Cx40 and Cx43; yet the functional consequences of this co-expression remain poorly understood. We quantitated the expression of Cx40 and Cx43 and their contributions to atrial gap junctional conductance (g(j)). Neonatal murine atrial myocytes showed similar abundances of Cx40 and Cx43 proteins, while ventricular myocytes contained at least 20 times more Cx43 than Cx40. Since Cx40 gap junction channels are blocked by 2 mM spermine while Cx43 channels are unaffected, we used spermine block as a functional dual whole cell patch clamp assay to determine Cx40 contributions to cardiac g(j). Slightly more than half of atrial g(j) and <or=20% of ventricular g(j) were inhibited. In myocytes from Cx40 null mice, the inhibition of ventricular g(j) was completely abolished, and the block of atrial g(j) was reduced to <20%. Compared to ventricular gap junctions, the transjunctional voltage (V(j))-dependent inactivation of atrial g(j) was reduced and kinetically slowed, while the V(j)-dependence of fast and slow inactivation was unchanged. We conclude that Cx40 and Cx43 are equally abundant in atrium and make similar contributions to atrial g(j). Co-expression of Cx40 accounts for most, but not all, of the differences in the V(j)-dependent gating properties between atrium and ventricle that may play a role in the genesis of slow myocardial conduction and arrhythmias.

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    ABSTRACT: Arrhythmia mechanisms rely on multiple factors including structural (myogenic), nervous (neurogenic), and interrelated (the neuro-myogenic interface) factors. I hypothesized that due to this neuro-myogenic interface, the intrinsic cardiac autonomic nervous system (ICANS) is involved in most atrial arrhythmias. This thesis also provides a "Threshold Model" as a tool to assess the role of different physiological factors influencing arrhythmia. This model allows relative comparison and interpretation of the role of various factors influencing arrhythmogenesis. The mouse allows relatively simple manipulation of genes to determine their role in arrhythmia. This thesis determined what atrial arrhythmias are inducible in the mouse (in vivo) and how to systematically study those arrhythmias. I found that atrial tachycardia/fibrillation (AT/F) and junctional tachycardia (JT) are inducible in the mouse. AF and JT pose significant clinical challenges as many patients do not respond well to current interventions. Neurogenic AF relies on acetylcholine, while myogenic AF relies, in part on gap junctions formed by connexins (Cxs). The atria has muscarinic M2 and M3 receptors. The duration of M2R/M3R G protein signalling is regulated by GTP hydrolysis, a process accelerated by the regulators of G protein signalling (RGS). RGS2 deficient (RGS2-/- ) mice had reduced refractory periods that were normalized with a selective M3R blocker (Darifenacin) and increased susceptibility to AT/F induction compared to littermates. For the first time, this showed a role of M3 and RGS in atrial arrhythmia. Cx40 deficient (Cx40-/-) mice were protected from carbachol induced AT/F, while Cx43 G60S mutant (Cx43G60S/+) mice, with an 80% reduction in phospho-Cx43 in the atria were highly susceptible to AT/F that was terminated by darifenacin. This shows a novel neurogenic component to what was previously described as myogenic arrhythmia. Another novel finding was that JT has a neurogenic component, resulting from inappropriate AV nodal pacemaker activation initiated autonomics. Ivabradine hydrochloride, a selective pacemaker channel blocker, prevented JT and may be useful in patients with JT. In conclusion, this thesis has provided novel findings of the vital role of the neuro- myogenic interface in atrial arrhythmias and has provided the basis for future investigations of potential therapeutic options for patients.
    05/2011, Degree: PhD Physiology, Supervisor: Doug Jones
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    ABSTRACT: Normal atrial conduction requires similar abundances and homogeneous/overlapping distributions of two connexins (Cx40 and Cx43). The remodeling of myocyte connections and altered electrical conduction associated with atrial fibrillation (AF) likely involves perturbations of these connexins. We conducted a comprehensive series of experiments to examine the abundances and distributions of Cx40 and Cx43 in the atria of AF patients. Atrial appendage tissues were obtained from patients with lone AF (paroxysmal or chronic) or normal controls. Connexins were localized by double label immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, and their overlap was quantified. Connexin proteins and mRNAs were quantified by immunoblotting and qRT-PCR. PCR amplified genomic DNA was sequenced to screen for connexin gene mutations or polymorphisms. Immunoblotting showed reductions of Cx40 protein (to 77% or 49% of control values in samples from patients with paroxysmal and chronic AF, respectively), but no significant changes of Cx43 protein levels in samples from AF patients. The extent of Cx43 immunostaining and its distribution relative to N-cadherin were preserved in the AF patient samples. Although there was variability of Cx40 staining among paroxysmal AF patients, all had some fields with substantial Cx40 heterogeneity and reduced overlap with Cx43. Cx40 immunostaining was severely reduced in all chronic AF patients. qRT-PCR showed no change in Cx43 mRNA levels, but reductions in total Cx40 mRNA (to <50%) and Cx40 transcripts A (to ~50%) and B (to <25%) as compared to controls. No Cx40 coding region mutations were identified. The frequency of promoter polymorphisms did not differ between AF patient samples and controls. Our data suggest that reduced Cx40 levels and heterogeneity of its distribution (relative to Cx43) are common in AF. Multiple mechanisms likely lead to reductions of functional Cx40 in atrial gap junctions and contribute to the pathogenesis of AF in different patients.
    Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 09/2014; 76. DOI:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2014.08.021 · 5.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Several Cx40 mutants have been identified in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). We have been working to identify physiological or cell biological abnormalities of several these human mutants that might explain how they contribute to disease pathogenesis. Wild type (wt) Cx40 or four different mutants (P88S, G38D, V85I, and L229M) were expressed by transfection of communication-deficient HeLa cells or HL-1 cardiomyocytes. Biophysical channel properties and the sub-cellular localization and protein levels of Cx40 were characterized. Wild type Cx40 and all mutants except P88S formed gap junction plaques and induced significant gap junctional conductances. The functional mutants showed only modest alterations of single channel conductances or gating by trans-junctional voltage as compared to wtCx40. However, immunoblotting indicated that the steady state levels of G38D, V85I, and L229M were reduced relative to wtCx40; most strikingly, G38D was only 20 - 31% of wild type levels. After inhibition of protein synthesis with cycloheximide, G38D (and to a lesser extent the other mutants) disappeared much faster than wtCx40. Treatment with the proteasomal inhibitor, epoxomicin, greatly increased levels of G38D and restored the abundance of gap junctions and the extent of intercellular dye transfer. Thus, G38D, V85I, and L229M are functional mutants of Cx40 with small alterations of physiological properties, but accelerated degradation by the proteasome. These findings suggest a novel mechanism (protein instability) for the pathogenesis of AF due to a connexin mutation and a novel approach to therapy (protease inhibition).
    Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 06/2014; 74. DOI:10.1016/j.yjmcc.2014.06.010 · 5.22 Impact Factor


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Sep 11, 2014