Cx43 channel gating and permeation: Multiple phosphorylation-dependent roles of the carboxyl terminus

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22 Scopus citations


Connexin 43 (Cx43), a gap junction protein seemingly fit to support cardiac impulse propagation and synchronic contraction, is phosphorylated in normoxia by casein kinase 1 (CK1). However, during cardiac ischemia or pressure overload hypertrophy, this phosphorylation fades, Cx43 abundance decreases at intercalated disks and increases at myocytes’ lateral borders, and the risk of arrhythmia rises. Studies in wild-type and transgenic mice indicate that enhanced CK1-phosphorylation of Cx43 protects from arrhythmia, while dephosphorylation precedes arrhythmia vulnerability. The mechanistic bases of these Cx43 (de)phosphoform-linked cardiac phenotypes are unknown. We used patch-clamp and dye injection techniques to study the channel function (gating, permeability) of Cx43 mutants wherein CK1-targeted serines were replaced by aspartate (Cx43-CK1-D) or alanine (Cx43-CK1-A) to emulate phosphorylation and dephosphorylation, respectively. Cx43-CK1-D, but not Cx43-CK1-A, displayed high Voltage-sensitivity and variable permselectivity. Both mutants showed multiple channel open states with overall increased conductivity, resistance to acidification-induced junctional uncoupling, and hemichannel openings in normal external calcium. Modest differences in the mutant channels’ function and regulation imply the involvement of dissimilar structural conformations of the interacting domains of Cx43 in electrical and chemical gating that may contribute to the divergent phenotypes of CK1-(de)phospho-mimicking Cx43 transgenic mice and that may bear significance in arrhythmogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1659
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 4 2018


  • Arrhythmia
  • Casein kinase 1
  • Channel gating
  • Gap junction permeability
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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