3 years ago

Junctional delay, frequency, and direction-dependent uncoupling of human heterotypic Cx45/Cx43 gap junction channels

Gap junction (GJ) channels form low resistance passages between cardiomyocytes and play a role in the rapid propagation of action potentials in the heart. A GJ channel is formed by two properly docked hemichannels and each hemichannel is a hexamer of connexins. Connexin40 (Cx40) and Cx43 are the dominant connexins in atrial myocytes, while Cx45 is mostly expressed in the sinoatrial (SA) and atrioventricular (AV) nodes which directly connect nodal cells with atrial myocytes, possibly via heterotypic Cx40/Cx45 and/or Cx43/Cx45 GJs. However, the functional status and channel properties of human heterotypic Cx40/Cx45 or Cx43/Cx45 GJs have not been studied. Here we investigated human Cx40/Cx45 and Cx43/Cx45 heterotypic GJs by recombinant expression in GJ deficient cells. Unlike the finding on rodent connexins, cell pairs expressing human Cx40 in one and Cx45 in the other failed to form morphological and functional GJs. Modifications in human Cx40 with designed variants (D55N or P193Q, but not P193K) are sufficient to establish morphological and functional heterotypic GJs with Cx45. In contrast, heterotypic human Cx43/Cx45 GJs are functional similar to that described for rodent Cx43/Cx45 GJs. Detailed kinetic characterizations of human heterotypic Cx43/Cx45 GJs revealed a rapid asymmetric Vj-gating and a much slower recovery, which could reduce the GJ conductance in a junctional delay, action potential frequency, and direction dependent manner. Dynamic uncoupling in Cx45-containing GJs might contribute to a slower action potential propagation in the AV node.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0022282817302717

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