Article: a PhD thesis.
Participation of connexin-based channels in the control of vascular function
Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecineUniversité de LausanneUNIL - BugnonRue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111CH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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SUMMARYIntercellular communication is achieved at specialized regions of the plasma membrane by gap junctions. The proteins constituting the gap junctions are called connexins and are encoded by a family of genes highly conserved during evolution. In adult mouse, four connexins (Cxs) are known to be expressed in the vasculature: Cx37, Cx40, Cx43 and Cx45. Several recent studies have provided evidences that vascular connexins expression and blood pressure regulation are closely linked, suggesting a role for connexins in the control of blood pressure. However, the precise function that each vascular connexin plays under physiological and pathophysiological conditions is still not elucidated. In this context, this work was dedicated to evaluate the contribution of each of the four vascular connexins in the control of the vascular function and in the blood pressure regulation.In the present work, we first demonstrated that vascular connexins are differently regulated by hypertension in the mouse aorta. We also observed that endothelial connexins play a regulatory role on eNOS expression levels and function in the aorta, therefore in the control of vascular tone. Then, we demonstrated that Cx40 plays a pivotal role in the kidney by regulating the renal levels of COX-2 and nNOS, two key enzymes of the macula densa known to participate in the control of renin secreting cells. We also found that Cx43 forms the functional gap junction involved in intercellular Ca2+ wave propagation between vascular smooth muscle cells. Finally, we have started to generate transgenic mice expressing specifically Cx40 in the endothelium to investigate the involvement of Cx40 in the vasomotor tone, or in the renin secreting cells to evaluate the role of Cx40 in the control of renin secretion.In conclusion, this work has allowed us to identify new roles for connexins in the vasculature. Our results suggest that vascular connexins could be interesting targets for new therapies caring hypertension and vascular diseases.
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