Role of connexin37 and connexin40 in vascular development

Alexander M. Simon, Andrea R. McWhorter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Mice lacking both connexin37 (Cx37) and connexin40 (Cx40), gap junction proteins expressed in vascular endothelium, die perinatally with pronounced vascular abnormalities. Early vasculogenesis proceeds normally, but by E18.5 Cx37-/-Cx40-/- animals display vessel dilatation and congestion as well as localized hemorrhages in skin, testis, intestines, and lungs. Abnormal vascular channels are present in the testis, often forming cavernous hemangioma-like defects. Unusually large, distended vessels are also present in the submucosa and lamina propria of the intestine. Ablation of Cx40 has a greater effect on endothelial dye-transfer than ablation of Cx37, and the effect of Cx40 ablation is age-dependent. Only in embryonic aortas lacking both Cx37 and Cx40 is there a complete loss of endothelial coupling. Surprisingly, elimination of Cx40 results in a large drop in aortic endothelial Cx37 on western blots, and deletion of Cx37 also reduces endothelial Cx40 levels. In contrast, in the medial layer, both Cx37 and Cx43 increase when Cx40 is ablated. These studies indicate that Cx37 and Cx40 are collectively critical for endothelial communication and provide evidence of an important role for gap junctions in vascular development. In addition, Cx37 and Cx40 appear to be mutually dependent on each other for normal expression in vascular endothelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalCell Communication and Adhesion
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - 2003


  • Connexin
  • Gap junction
  • Hemangioma hemorrhage
  • Vascular abnormality
  • Vascular endothelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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