Connexin43 associated with an N-cadherin containing multi-protein complex is required for gap junction formation in NIH3T3 cells

Wei CJ, Francis R, Xu X and Lo CW
Source: J Biol Chem
Publication Date: (2005)
Issue: 280(20): 19925-19936
Research Area:
Cancer Research/Cell Biology
Cells used in publication:
Species: mouse
Tissue Origin: embryo
Nucleofectorâ„¢ I/II/2b
Previous studies have indicated an intimate linkage between gap junction and adherens junction formation. It was suggested this could reflect the close membrane-membrane apposition required for junction formation. In NIH3T3 cells, we observed the colocalization of connexin43 (Cx43alpha1) gap junction protein with N-cadherin, p120, and other N-cadherin-associated proteins at regions of cell-cell contact. We also found that Cx43alpha1, N-cadherin, and N-cadherin-associated proteins were coimmunoprecipitated by antibodies to either Cx43alpha1, N-cadherin, or various N-cadherin-associated proteins. These findings suggest that Cx43alpha1 and N-cadherin are coassembled in a multiprotein complex containing various N-cadherin-associated proteins. Studies using siRNA knockdown indicated that cell surface expression of Cx43alpha1 required N-cadherin, and conversely, N-cadherin cell surface expression required Cx43alpha1. Pulse-chase labeling and cell surface biotinylation experiments indicated that in the absence of N-cadherin, Cx43alpha1 cell surface trafficking is blocked. Surprisingly, siRNA knockdown of p120, an N-cadherin-associated protein known to modulate cell surface turnover of N-cadherin, reduced N-cadherin cell surface expression without altering Cx43alpha1 expression. These observations suggest that in contrast to the coregulated cell surface trafficking of Cx43alpha1 and N-cadherin, N-cadherin turnover at the cell surface may be regulated independently of Cx43alpha1. Functional studies showed gap junctional communication is reduced and cell motility inhibited with N-cadherin or Cx43alpha1 knockdown, consistent with the observed loss of both gap junction and cadherin contacts with either knockdown. Overall, these studies indicate that the intracellular coassembly of connexin and cadherin is required for gap junction and adherens junction formation, a process that likely underlies the intimate association between gap junction and adherens junction formation.