Using specific antibodies and cDNA probe, we examined the expression pattern of a major gap junction protein, connexin43 (Cx43), in rat mammary glands during pregnancy and lactation. Double immunofluorescence revealed that the labeling of Cx43 was superimposed in the α-smooth muscle actin-positive cells, suggesting that myoepithelial cells were interconnected by gap junctions formed of Cx43. Just after delivery, the Cx43-labeled plaques were enlarged and increased in intensity. Northern and Western blot analyses confirmed the dramatic induction of Cx43 at both mRNA and protein levels on the day of parturition. Cx43 mRNA transcript immediately declined, white the increase of Cx43 protein continued for a few days. During pregnancy, immunoblots showed two bands of almost equal amounts at 43 and 45 kDa. Following delivery, the 45-kDa band gradually increased in intensity with a concomitant decrease of the 43-kDa band. From the sixth day of lactation, Cx43 was always detected as a single band at 45 kDa. Alkaline phosphatase treatment of immunoprecipitated Cx43 revealed that both bands represented phosphorylated forms, thus indicating that Cx43 was naturally phosphorylated and that it altered its phosphorylation states during lactation stages. These results suggest that the induction of Cx43 with the changes in the phosphorylation states plays an important role in the lactating function of myoepithelial cells in rat mammary glands. This is the first report on the changes of Cx43 phosphorylation states during physiological stages in vivo.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||European Journal of Cell Biology|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 1997|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology