Gap junctions in human umbilical cord endothelial cells contain multiple connexins

H. van Rijen, M. J. van Kempen, L. J. Analbers, M. B. Rook, A. C. van Ginneken, D. Gros, H. J. Jongsma

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We investigated the expression pattern of gap junctional proteins (connexins, Cx) in situ and in vitro and their functional characteristics in cultured human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and cultured human umbilical artery endothelial cells (HUAEC). In both arteries and veins, Cx37, Cx40, and Cx43 could be detected in situ and in vitro (passages 2-4). Distribution patterns of Cx40 and Cx43 were homogeneous in situ but more heterogeneous in vitro. Cx37 is heterogeneously expressed both in situ and in vitro. Among most cells, no Cx37 staining could be detected; when present, it was found as bright spots between some clusters of cells. Cx40 was more abundant in cultured arterial endothelium than in cultured venous endothelium. Dye-coupling experiments with Lucifer yellow CH revealed extensive dye spread in HUVEC (15.2 +/- 0.4, mean +/- SE, n = 110) but was significantly restricted in HUAEC (9.8 +/- 0.3, n = 110). Electrophysiological gap junctional characteristics were determined in cultured HUVEC and HUAEC pairs by use of the dual voltage-clamp technique. In contrast to the dye-coupling experiments, mean macroscopic electrical conductance was significantly larger for HUAEC pairs (31.4 +/- 6.0 nS, n = 12) than for HUVEC pairs (16.6 +/- 2.8, n = 18). In HUVEC, we measured multiple single gap junctional channel conductances in the range of 19-75 pS. Interestingly, additional conductances of 80-200 pS were measured in HUAEC, possibly partially reflecting activity of channels formed of Cx40, which are more abundant in the cultured arterial endothelial cells
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C117-C130
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology
Issue number1 Part 1
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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