Phosphorylation-dependent allosteric regulation of Cx43 gap junction inhibitor potency

Biomed Pharmacother. 2024 May:174:116550. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2024.116550. Epub 2024 Apr 8.


Physiological and pathological processes such as homeostasis, embryogenesis, development, tumorigenesis, and cell movement depend on the intercellular communication through gap junctions (GJIC). Connexin (Cx)-based GJ channels are formed of two apposing hemichannels in the contiguous cells and provide a direct pathway for electrical and metabolic intercellular communication. The main modulators of GJ conductance are transjunctional voltage, intracellular pH, Ca2+, Mg2+, and phosphorylation. Chemical modulators of GJIC are being used in cases of various intercellular communication-dependent diseases. In this study, we used molecular docking, dual whole-cell patch-clamp, and Western blotting to investigate the impact of connexin phosphorylation on GJ chemical gating by α-pinene and other GJ inhibitors (octanol, carbenoxolone, mefloquine, intracellular pH, glycyrrhetinic acid, and sevoflurane) in HeLa cells expressing exogenous Cx43 (full length and truncated at amino acid 258) and other connexins typical of heart and/or nervous system (Cx36, Cx40, Cx45, and Cx47), and in cells expressing endogenous Cx43 (Novikoff and U-87). We found that Ca2+-regulated kinases, such as Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II, atypical protein kinase C, cyclin-dependent kinase, and Pyk2 kinase may allosterically modulate the potency of α-pinene through phosphorylation of Cx43 C-terminus. The identified new phenomenon was Cx isoform-, inhibitor-, and cell type-dependent. Overall, these results suggest that compounds, the potency of which depends on receptor phosphorylation, might be of particular interest in developing targeted therapies for diseases accompanied by high kinase activity, such as cardiac arrhythmias, epilepsy, stroke, essential tremor, inflammation, and cancer.

Keywords: Allosteric regulation; Ca(2+)-dependent kinases; Connexin 43; Gap junctions; Inhibitor potency; Phosphorylation.

MeSH terms

  • Allosteric Regulation / drug effects
  • Connexin 43* / metabolism
  • Gap Junctions* / drug effects
  • Gap Junctions* / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects


  • Connexin 43
  • GJA1 protein, human