Dynamic connexin43 expression and gap junctional communication during endoderm differentiation of F9 embryonal carcinoma cells

Eur J Cell Biol. 2000 Apr;79(4):272-82. doi: 10.1078/S0171-9335(04)70030-8.


Gap junctional communication permits the direct intercellular exchange of small molecules and ions. In vertebrates, gap junctions are formed by the conjunction of two connexons, each consisting of a hexamer of connexin proteins, and are either established or degraded depending on the nature of the tissue formed. Gap junction function has been implicated in both directing developmental cell fate decisions and in tissue homeostasis/metabolite exchange. In mouse development, formation of the extra embryonal parietal endoderm from visceral endoderm is the first epithelial-mesenchyme transition to occur. This transition can be mimicked in vitro, by F9 embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells treated with retinoic acid, to form (epithelial) primitive or visceral endoderm, and then with parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) to induce the transition to (mesenchymal) parietal endoderm. Here, we demonstrate that connexin43 mRNA and protein expression levels, protein phosphorylation and subcellular localization are dynamically regulated during F9 EC cell differentiation. Dye injection showed that this complex regulation of connexin43 is correlated with functional gap junctional communication. Similar patterns of connexin43 expression, localization and communication were found in visceral and parietal endoderm isolated ex vivo from mouse embryos at day 8.5 of gestation. However, in F9 cells this tightly regulated gap junctional communication does not appear to be required for the differentiation process as such.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Bucladesine / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Embryonal / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Connexin 43 / biosynthesis*
  • Endoderm / drug effects
  • Endoderm / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Parathyroid Hormone-Related Protein
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Proteins / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Connexin 43
  • Parathyroid Hormone-Related Protein
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tretinoin
  • Bucladesine