Cyclic AMP and LDL trigger a rapid enchancement in gap junction assembly through a stimulation of connexin trafficking

A. F. Paulson, P. D. Lampe, R. A. Meyer, E. TenBroek, M. M. Atkinson, Timothy F Walseth, Ross G Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Given the rapid turnover of connexin proteins, gap junction (GJ) assembly represents an important means of regulating the extent of GJ communication between cells. This report describes an increase in the level of GJ assembly within one hour following treatment with cAMP-elevating reagents or low density lipoprotein (LDL). Dye transfer methods and freeze-fracture with electron microscopy were used to assay junctional permeability and structure, respectively, subsequent to the dissociation, recovery and reaggregation of Novikoff hepatoma cells. Reaggregating cells in the presence of agents that increase cAMP levels (8-Br-cAMP, forskolin and IBMX) enhanced both dye transfer rates between cells and the extent of GJ formation 2- to 3-fold. These data and studies with the protein kinase A inhibitor, H-89, indicate that cAMP signaling plays a key role in enhanced assembly. The response to LDL parallels that to cAMP and relies on the activity of both adenylyl cyclase and protein kinase A. Immunoblot analysis revealed no change in the level of connexin43 (Cx43) or its phosphorylation states over a period of 2.5 hours. However, three agents (brefeldin A, monensin and nocodazole), that inhibit intracellular membrane trafficking by different mechanisms, all blocked the enhanced assembly of GJs when triggered by either elevated cAMP or exposure to LDL. Related studies, which employed trafficking inhibitors at different stages in GJ assembly, suggested that Cx43 trafficking during enhanced assembly is regulated, in part, by cell contact. Intracellular sources of Cx43 were characterized by colabeling for several markers of cytoplasmic membrane systems. We conclude that an increase in GJ assembly: (i) occurs rapidly in the presence of elevated cAMP or LDL, (ii) does not require and increase in Cx43 levels or major changes in Cx43 phosphorylation and (iii) is dependent upon the trafficking of Cx43 from intracellular storage sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3037-3049
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2000


  • CAMP
  • Connexin43
  • Gap junction
  • Junction assembly
  • Trafficking


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