Connexin43 phosphorylation and cytoprotection in the heart

Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, University of Manitoba, Canada
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Impact Factor: 4.66). 07/2011; 1818(8):2009-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2011.06.023
Source: PubMed


The fundamental role played by connexins including connexin43 (Cx43) in forming intercellular communication channels (gap junctions), ensuring electrical and metabolic coupling between cells, has long been recognized and extensively investigated. There is also increasing recognition that Cx43, and other connexins, have additional roles, such as the ability to regulate cell proliferation, migration, and cytoprotection. Multiple phosphorylation sites, targets of different signaling pathways, are present at the regulatory, C-terminal domain of Cx43, and contribute to constitutive as well as transient phosphorylation Cx43 patterns, responding to ever-changing environmental stimuli and corresponding cellular needs. The present paper will focus on Cx43 in the heart, and provide an overview of the emerging recognition of a relationship between Cx43, its phosphorylation pattern, and development of resistance to injury. We will also review our recent work regarding the role of an enhanced phosphorylation state of Cx43 in cardioprotection. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: The Communicating junctions, composition, structure and characteristics.

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Available from: Barbara E Nickel, Oct 28, 2015
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    • "Cardiac remodeling occurs in response to a variety of cardiac disorders, and is characterized by structural and electrical alterations that decrease heart electrical stability (Miura et al., 2010; Duffy, 2012; Fontes et al., 2012). The changes in impulse conduction are associated with the phenomenon of lateralization, defined by decreased Cx43 expression, with a relative increase in lateral vs. intercalated-disc Cx43 expression, which is often associated with abnormal conduction and arrhythmias (Miura et al., 2010; Duffy, 2012; Fontes et al., 2012; Jeyaraman et al., 2012; Remo et al., 2012). Lateralization is observed in a variety of acquired and inherited arrhythmic syndromes, including ischemic heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (Miura et al., 2010; Duffy, 2012; Fontes et al., 2012; Remo et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Gap-junction channels (GJCs) are aqueous channels that communicate adjacent cells. They are formed by head-to-head association of two hemichannels (HCs), one from each of the adjacent cells. Functional HCs are connexin hexamers composed of one or more connexin isoforms. Deafness is the most frequent sensineural disorder, and mutations of Cx26 are the most common cause of genetic deafness. Cx43 is the most ubiquitous connexin, expressed in many organs, tissues, and cell types, including heart, brain, and kidney. Alterations in its expression and function play important roles in the pathophysiology of very frequent medical problems such as those related to cardiac and brain ischemia. There is extensive information on the relationship between phosphorylation and Cx43 targeting, location, and function from experiments in cells and organs in normal and pathological conditions. However, the molecular mechanisms of Cx43 regulation by phosphorylation are hard to tackle in complex systems. Here, we present the use of purified HCs as a model for functional and structural studies. Cx26 and Cx43 are the only isoforms that have been purified, reconstituted, and subjected to functional and structural analysis. Purified Cx26 and Cx43 HCs have properties compatible with those demonstrated in cells, and present methodologies for the functional analysis of purified HCs reconstituted in liposomes. We show that phosphorylation of serine 368 by PKC produces a partial closure of the Cx43 HCs, changing solute selectivity. We also present evidence that the effect of phosphorylation is highly cooperative, requiring modification of several connexin subunits, and that phosphorylation of serine 368 elicits conformational changes in the purified HCs. The use of purified HCs is starting to provide critical data to understand the regulation of HCs at the molecular level.
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    ABSTRACT: The open state(s) of gap junction channels is evident from their permeation by small ions in response to an applied intercellular (transjunctional/transchannel) voltage gradient. That an open channel allows variable amounts of current to transit from cell-to-cell in the face of a constant intercellular voltage difference indicates channel open/closing can be complete or partial. The physiological significance of such open state options is, arguably, the main concern of junctional regulation. Because gap junctions are permeable to many substances, it is sensible to inquire whether and how each open state influences the intercellular diffusion of molecules as valuable as, but less readily detected than current-carrying ions. Presumably, structural changes perceived as shifts in channel conductivity would significantly alter the transjunctional diffusion of molecules whose limiting diameter approximates the pore's limiting diameter. Moreover, changes in junctional permeability to some molecules might occur without evident changes in conductivity, either at macroscopic or single channel level. Open gap junction channels allow the exchange of cytoplasmic permeants between contacting cells by simple diffusion. The identity of such permeants, and the functional circumstances and consequences of their junctional exchange presently constitute the most urgent (and demanding) themes of the field. Here, we consider the necessity for regulating this exchange, the possible mechanism(s) and structural elements likely involved in such regulation, and how regulatory phenomena could be perceived as changes in chemical vs. electrical coupling; an overall reflection on our collective knowledge of junctional communication is then applied to suggest new avenues of research. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: The Communicating junctions, roles and dysfunctions.
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