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Connexin43 PDZ2 binding domain mutants create functional gap junctions and exhibit altered phosphorylation.

Connexin43 (Cx43) is the most abundantly expressed gap junction protein. The C-terminal tail of Cx43 is important for regulation of gap junctions via phosphorylation of specific tyrosine and serine residues and through interactions with cellular proteins. The C-terminus of Cx43 has been shown to interact with the PDZ2 domain of the tight and adherens junction associated zona occludens 1 (ZO-1) protein. Analysis of the PDZ2 binding domain of Cx43 indicated that positions -3 and -2, and the final hydrophobic amino acid at the C-terminus, are critical for ZO-1 binding. In addition, the C-termini of connexins 40 and 45, but not Cx32, interacted with ZO-1. To evaluate the functional significance of the Cx43-ZO-1 interaction, Cx43 wild type (Cx43wt) and mutants lacking either the C-terminal hydrophobic isoleucine (Cx43deltaI382) or the last five amino acids (Cx43delta378-382), required for ZO-1 binding in vitro, were introduced into a Cx43-deficient MDCK cell line. In vitro binding studies and coimmunoprecipitation assays indicated that these Cx43 mutants failed to interact with ZO-1. Confocal and deconvolution microscopy revealed that a fraction of Cx43wt colocalized with ZO-1 at the plasma membrane. A similar colocalization pattern was observed for the Cx43deltaI382 and Cx43 delta378-382 mutants, which were translocated to the plasma membrane and formed functional gap junction channels. The wt and mutant Cx43 appeared to have similar turnover rates. However, the P2 and P3 phosphoisoforms of the Cx43 mutants were significantly reduced compared to Cx43wt. These studies indicated that the interaction of Cx43 with ZO-1 may contribute to the regulation of Cx43 phosphorylation.[1]


  1. Connexin43 PDZ2 binding domain mutants create functional gap junctions and exhibit altered phosphorylation. Jin, C., Martyn, K.D., Kurata, W.E., Warn-Cramer, B.J., Lau, A.F. Cell Commun. Adhes. (2004) [Pubmed]
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