Connexin43 is the predominant gap junction protein expressed in the heart. To determine the relation between cardiac maturation and gap junction gene expression, the developmental profiles of connexin43 mRNA and protein were examined in the rat heart. Connexin43 mRNA levels accumulate progressively (eightfold) during embryonic and early neonatal stages, accompanied by a parallel, but temporally delayed, accumulation of connexin43 protein (15-fold). As the heart matures further, both mRNA and protein levels subsequently decline, to about 50% and 30% of their maximum levels, respectively. These observations suggest that increases in intercellular coupling that characterize cardiac development do not depend solely on modulation of connexin43 gene expression, but rather are likely to involve organization of gap junction channels into the intercalated disc.
- cardiac gap junction
- gene expression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine