Contribution of the gap junction proteins Connexin40 and Connexin43 to the control of blood pressure


Request a copy
Serval ID
PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Contribution of the gap junction proteins Connexin40 and Connexin43 to the control of blood pressure
Krattinger N.
Haefliger J.-A.
Waeber G.
Institution details
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Publication state
Issued date
Number of pages
REROID:R004409471 ill.
Cells in tissues and organs coordinate their activities by communicating with each other through intercellular channels named gap junctions. These channels are conduits between the cytoplasmic compartments of adjacent cells, allowing the exchange of small molecules which may be crucial for hormone secretion. Renin is normally secreted in a regulated manner by specific cells of the juxtaglomerular apparatus located within the renal cortex. Gap junctional communication may be requisite to maintain an accurate functioning in coordination of renin-producing cells, more especially as renin is of paramount importance for the control of blood pressure. Connexin43 (Cx43) and Cx40 form gap junctions that link in vivo the cells of the juxtaglomerular apparatus. Cx43 links the endothelial cells, whereas gap junctions made of Cx40 connect the endothelial cells, the renin secreting cells, as well as the endothelial cells of to the renin-secreting cells of the afferent arteriole. The observation that loss of Cx40 results in chronic hypertension associated with altered vasomotion and signal conduction along arterioles, has lead us to suggest that connexins may contribute to control blood pressure by participating to the integration of various mechanical, osmotic and electrochemical stimuli involved in the control of renin secretion and by mediating the adaptive changes of the vascular wall induced by elevated blood pressure and mechanical stress. We therefore postulated that the absence of Cx40 could have deleterious effects on the coordinated functioning of the renin-containing cells, hence accounting for hypertension.
In the first part of my thesis, we reported that Cx40-deficient mice (Cx40) are hypertensive due to increased plasma renin levels and numbers of renin-producing cells. Besides, we demonstrated that prostaglandins and nitric oxide, which are possible mediators in the regulation of renin secretion by the macula densa, exert a critical role in the mechanisms controlling blood pressure ín Cx40 knockout hypertensive mice. In view of previous studies that stated avessel-specifc increase in the expression of Cx43 during renin-dependent hypertension, we hypothesized that Cx43 channels are particularly well-matched to integrate the response of cells constituting the vascular wall to hypertensive conditions. Using transgenic mice in which Cx43 was replaced by Cx32, we revealed that the replacement of Cx43 by Cx32 is associated with decreased expression and secretion of renin and prevent the renin-dependent hypertension which is normally induced in the 2K1C model.
To gain insights into the regulation of connexins in two separate tissues exposed to the same fluid pressure, the second part of my thesis work was dedicated to the study of the impact of chronic hypertension and related hypertrophy on the expression of the cardiovascular connexins (Cx40, Cx37, Cx43 and Cx45) in mouse aorta and heart. Our results documented that the expression of connexins is differentially regulated in mouse aorta. according to the models of hypertension. Thus, blood pressure induces mechanical forces that differentially alter the expression of vascular connexins in order to respond to an adaptation of the aortic wall observed under pathological conditions.
Altogether these data provide the first evidences that intercellular communication mediated by gap junctions is required for a proper renin secretion from the juxtaglomerular apparatus in order to control blood pressure.
Create date
22/06/2010 9:45
Last modification date
20/08/2019 15:59
Usage data