Regulation of Connexin 43 by Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor in the Bladder: Transcriptional and Behavioral Implications
Basic fibroblast growth factor is a candidate causative factor of detrusor overactivity in bladder outlet obstruction cases through up-regulation of the gap junction protein connexin 43. We addressed the transcriptional and behavioral implications of this axis. Cx43 and Cx45 mRNA expression was assessed by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in the bladder of a rat bladder outlet obstruction model and in cultured rat bladder smooth muscle cells with and without basic fibroblast growth factor treatment. Involvement of the extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2-activator protein-1 pathway was evaluated by immunofluorescence study and a promoter-reporter assay in bladder smooth muscle cells. The effect of basic fibroblast growth factor on micturition behavior was measured in unrestrained rats under a 12-hour light/dark cycle using a controlled release system from gelatin hydrogels fixed on the bladder. The expression of extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 and connexin 43 protein was assessed by Western blotting of rat bladder protein. Cx43 but not Cx45 mRNA expression was increased in the bladder of the obstruction model and in bladder smooth muscle cells treated with basic fibroblast growth factor. The mitogen-activated and extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase inhibitor PD98059 blocked the stimulatory effect of basic fibroblast growth factor on connexin 43 protein expression and promoter activity, which was also decreased by mutation or deletion of an activator protein-1 cis-element of the connexin 43 promoter. In vivo application of basic fibroblast growth factor on the bladder increased urinary frequency during the latter half of the dark phase, ie the late active phase of rats (F = 5.1, 2-way ANOVA p <0.05). The expression of phospho-extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 and connexin 43 protein was increased in the bladder. The extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2-activator protein-1-connexin 43 axis could be a potential therapeutic target for increased urinary frequency.