Expression of the rat connexin 39 (rCx39) gene in myoblasts and myotubes in developing and regenerating skeletal muscles: an in situ hybridization study.
ABSTRACT We report a detailed analysis of the expression pattern of the recently identified rat connexin gene, named rat connexin 39 (rCx39), both during embryonic development and in adult life. Qualitative and quantitative reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction analysis showed intense expression of rCx39 restricted to differentiating skeletal muscles, with a peak of expression detected at 18 days of embryonic life, followed by a rapid decline to undetectable levels within the first week of postnatal life. A combination of the in situ hybridization technique for the detection of rCx39 mRNA and immunohistochemistry for myogenin, a myoblast-specific marker, allowed us to establish that the mRNA for this connexin was expressed in myogenin-positive myoblasts and early myotubes but disappeared in mature myotubes. Moreover, in adult animals, rCx39 mRNA was expressed in myogenic cells involved in skeletal myofiber regeneration following a crush injury. This is the first case of a connexin being mainly expressed in the myogenic cell lineage. The information presented should pave the way to novel molecular approaches in studies on the role of connexin-based gap-junctional communication in skeletal muscle differentiation and regeneration.
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ABSTRACT: In many tissues and organs, connexin proteins assemble between neighboring cells to form gap junctions. These gap junctions facilitate direct intercellular communication between adjoining cells, allowing for the transmission of both chemical and electrical signals. In rodents, gap junctions are found in differentiating myoblasts and are important for myogenesis. Although gap junctions were once believed to be absent from differentiated skeletal muscle in mammals, recent studies in teleosts revealed that differentiated muscle does express connexins and is electrically coupled, at least at the larval stage. These findings raised questions regarding the functional significance of gap junctions in differentiated muscle. Our analysis of gap junctions in muscle began with the isolation of a zebrafish motor mutant that displayed weak coiling at day 1 of development, a behavior known to be driven by slow-twitch muscle (slow muscle). We identified a missense mutation in the gene encoding Connexin 39.9. In situ hybridization found connexin 39.9 to be expressed by slow muscle. Paired muscle recordings uncovered that wild-type slow muscles are electrically coupled, whereas mutant slow muscles are not. The further examination of cellular activity revealed aberrant, arrhythmic touch-evoked Ca(2+) transients in mutant slow muscle and a reduction in the number of muscle fibers contracting in response to touch in mutants. These results indicate that Connexin 39.9 facilitates the spreading of neuronal inputs, which is irregular during motor development, beyond the muscle cells and that gap junctions play an essential role in the efficient recruitment of slow muscle fibers.Journal of Biological Chemistry 11/2011; 287(2):1080-9. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Gap junctions are specialized channels composed of several connexins, membrane proteins that mediate electrical and metabolic coupling between cells. Previous data have suggested that changes in the expression of Cx43, the main astrocytic Cx isoform, may be involved in seizure activity in human epileptic tissue. However, Cx43 has never been examined in focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) and in other human refractory epilepsies. We analyzed Cx43 protein localization and Cx43 mRNA levels in surgical specimens of cortex from a cohort of patients with intractable epilepsy vs control nonepileptic tissue. Samples had neuropathologically defined diagnosis of cryptogenic epilepsy or epilepsy secondary to FCD. Cx43 immunoreactivity, which labeled punctate elements, did not reveal distinctive features in cryptogenic epilepsy and FCD type IA and IIA. A peculiar pattern of immunolabeling was instead observed in FCD type IIB, in which large aggregates of Cx43-immunopositive puncta were clustered around subsets of balloon cells and astrocytes. Further characterization revealed that these balloon cells do not express markers of precursor cells, such as CD34. Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR showed elevated levels of Cx43 transcript in a subgroup (25%) of cryptogenic epilepsy specimens compared to control and FCD ones. Our study points out that a rearrangement of Cx43-positive elements is part of abnormal tissue organization in FCD type IIB, and that cryptogenic epilepsies include forms with increased Cx43 mRNA expression. The data implicate functional consequences of altered Cx43 expression, and therefore of altered gap junctional coupling, in abnormal network properties of subtypes of human refractory epilepsies.Neurology 03/2011; 76(10):895-902. · 8.25 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: During repetitive stimulation of skeletal muscle, extracellular ATP levels raise, activating purinergic receptors, increasing Ca(2+) influx, and enhancing contractile force, a response called potentiation. We found that ATP appears to be released through pannexin 1 hemichannels (Panx1 HCs). Immunocytochemical analyses and function were consistent with pannexin1 localization to T-tubules intercalated with dihydropyridine and ryanodine receptors in slow (soleus) and fast (extensor digitorum longus, EDL) muscles. Isolated myofibers took up ethidium (Etd(+)) and released small molecules (as ATP) during electrical stimulation. Consistent with two glucose uptake pathways, induced uptake of 2-NBDG, a fluorescent glucose derivative, was decreased by inhibition of HCs or glucose transporter (GLUT4), and blocked by dual blockade. Adult skeletal muscles apparently do not express connexins, making it unlikely that connexin hemichannels contribute to the uptake and release of small molecules. ATP release, Etd(+) uptake, and potentiation induced by repetitive electrical stimulation were blocked by HC blockers and did not occur in muscles of pannexin1 knockout mice. MRS 2179, a P2Y1R blocker, prevented potentiation in EDL, but not soleus muscles, suggesting that in fast muscles ATP activates P2Y1 but not P2X receptors. Phosphorylation on Ser and Thr residues of pannexin1 was increased during potentiation, possibly mediating HC opening. Opening of Panx1 HCs during repetitive activation allows efflux of ATP, influx of glucose and possibly Ca(2+) too, which are required for potentiation of contraction.Neuropharmacology 04/2013; · 4.11 Impact Factor