Regulation of gap junctional charge selectivity in cells coexpressing connexin 40 and connexin 43

Nathanael S. Heyman, David T. Kurjiaka, Jose F. Ek Vitorin, Janis M. Burt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Expression of connexin 40 (Cx40) and Cx43 in cardiovascular tissues varies as a function of age, injury, and development with unknown consequences on the selectivity of junctional communication and its acute regulation. We investigated the PKC-dependent regulation of charge selectivity in junctions composed of Cx43, Cx40, or both by simultaneous assessment of junctional permeance rate constants (Bdye) for dyes of similar size but opposite charge, N,N,N-trimethyl-2-[methyl-(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiol-4-yl)amino] ethanaminium (NBD-M-TMA; +1) and Alexa 350 (-1). The ratio of dye rate constants (BNBD-M-TMA/BAlexa 350) indicated that Cx40 junctions are cation selective (10.7 ± 0.5), whereas Cx43 junction are nonselective (1.22 ± 0.14). In coexpressing cells, a broad range of junctional selectivities was observed with mean cation selectivity increasing as the Cx40 to Cx43 expression ratio increased. PKC activation reduced or eliminated dye permeability of Cx43 junctions without altering their charge selectivity, had no effect on either permeability or charge selectivity of Cx40 junctions, and significantly increased the cation selectivity of junctions formed by coexpressing cells (approaching charge selectivity of Cx40 junctions). Junctions composed of Cx43 truncated at residue 257 (Cx43tr) were also not charge selective, but when Cx43tr was coexpressed with Cx40, a broad range of junctional selectivities that was unaffected by PKC activation was observed. Thus, whereas the charge selectivities of homomeric/homotypic Cx43 and Cx40 junctions appear invariant, the selectivities of junctions formed by cells coexpressing Cx40 and Cx43 vary considerably, reflecting both their relative expression levels and phosphorylation-dependent regulation. Such regulation could represent a mechanism by which coexpressing cells such as vascular endothelium and atrial cells regulate acutely the selective intercellular communication mediated by their gap junctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H450-H459
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Carboxy-terminal domain
  • Heteromeric channel
  • Homomeric channel
  • PKC-dependent regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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