Astrocytes undergo intense morphological maturation during development, changing from individual sparsely branched cells to polarized and tremendously ramified cells. Connexin 30, an astroglial gap-junction channel-forming protein expressed postnatally, regulates in situ the extension and ramification of astroglial processes. However, the involvement of connexin 30 in astroglial polarization, which is known to control cell morphology, remains unexplored. We found that connexin 30, independently of gap-junction-mediated intercellular biochemical coupling, alters the orientation of astrocyte protrusion, centrosome and Golgi apparatus during polarized migration in an in vitro wound-healing assay. Connexin 30 sets the orientation of astroglial motile protrusions via modulation of the laminin/β1 integrin/Cdc42 polarity pathway. Connexin 30 indeed reduces laminin levels, inhibits the redistribution of the β1-integrin extracellular matrix receptors, and inhibits the recruitment and activation of the small Rho GTPase Cdc42 at the leading edge of migrating astrocytes. In vivo, connexin 30, the expression of which is developmentally regulated, also contributes to the establishment of hippocampal astrocyte polarity during postnatal maturation. This study thus reveals that connexin 30 controls astroglial polarity during development.
Keywords: Astrocytes; Connexin; Development; Hippocampus; Mouse; Polarity.
© 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.