Inhibition of Connexin43 Hemichannels Impairs Spatial Short-Term Memory without Affecting Spatial Working Memory

Front Cell Neurosci. 2016 Dec 20:10:288. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2016.00288. eCollection 2016.


Astrocytes are active players in higher brain function as they can release gliotransmitters, which are essential for synaptic plasticity. Various mechanisms have been proposed for gliotransmission, including vesicular mechanisms as well as non-vesicular ones, for example by passive diffusion via connexin hemichannels (HCs). We here investigated whether interfering with connexin43 (Cx43) HCs influenced hippocampal spatial memory. We made use of the peptide Gap19 that blocks HCs but not gap junction channels and is specific for Cx43. To this end, we microinfused transactivator of transcription linked Gap19 (TAT-Gap19) into the brain ventricle of male NMRI mice and assessed spatial memory in a Y maze. We found that the in vivo blockade of Cx43 HCs did not affect the locomotor activity or spatial working memory in a spontaneous alternation Y maze task. Cx43 blockade did however significantly impair the spatial short-term memory in a delayed spontaneous alternation Y maze task. These results indicate that Cx43 HCs play a role in spatial short-term memory.

Keywords: TAT-Gap19; Y maze; connexin43; short-term memory; working memory.