Intracellular trafficking pathways of Cx43 gap junction channels

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Gap Junction (GJ) channels, including the most common Connexin 43 (Cx43), have fundamental roles in excitable tissues by facilitating rapid transmission of action potentials between adjacent cells. For instance, synchronization during each heartbeat is regulated by these ion channels at the cardiomyocyte cell-cell border. Cx43 protein has a short half-life, and rapid synthesis and timely delivery of those proteins to particular subdomains are crucial for the cellular organization of gap junctions and maintenance of intracellular coupling. Impairment in gap junction trafficking contributes to dangerous complications in diseased hearts such as the arrhythmias of sudden cardiac death. Of recent interest are the protein-protein interactions with the Cx43 carboxy-terminus. These interactions have significant impact on the full length Cx43 lifecycle and also contribute to trafficking of Cx43 as well as possibly other functions. We are learning that many of the known non-canonical roles of Cx43 can be attributed to the recently identified six endogenous Cx43 truncated isoforms which are produced by internal translation. In general, alternative translation is a new leading edge for proteome expansion and therapeutic drug development. This review highlights recent mechanisms identified in the trafficking of gap junction channels, involvement of other proteins contributing to the delivery of channels to the cell-cell border, and understanding of possible roles of the newly discovered alternatively translated isoforms in Cx43 biology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Gap Junction Proteins edited by Jean Claude Herve.




Epifantseva, I., & Shaw, R. M. (2018). Intracellular trafficking pathways of Cx43 gap junction channels. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1860(1), 40–47.

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