The gap junctional intercellular communication-deficient mouse skin papilloma cell line P3/22 expresses Cx43 but not E-cadherin. The E-cadherin gene-transfected cells (P3E1) communicate in a calcium-dependent manner and they were used to study how E-cadherin restores the function of connexins. At low calcium, Cx43 molecules remain in the cytoplasm of P3E1 cells and appear at cell-cell contact areas only in high-calcium medium. While Cx43 is unphosphorylated in P3E1 cells in low-calcium medium, two phosphorylated bands appeared at high calcium. However, when Cx26, which has no C-terminal tail that can undergo phosphorylation, was expressed in P3E1 cells, this connexin also moved to the plasma membrane after the calcium shift and partly colocalized with Cx43, suggesting that C-terminal phosphorylation is not essential for E-cadherin-mediated intracellular transport of connexins. In low calcium, both Cx26 and Cx43 remained and colocalized in the endoplasmic reticulum. As early as 30 min after the shift to high-calcium medium, both Cx43 and Cx26 began to accumulate in the Golgi apparatus. Intracellular movement of connexins to the cytoplasmic membrane at high calcium was effectively blocked by cytochalasin D and brefeldin A. These results suggest that E-cadherin junction formation at high calcium leads to formation of actin cables, which directly or indirectly transport connexins from the cytoplasm to the cell-cell contact membranes via the Golgi apparatus.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.