Assembly of connexin43 into gap junctions is regulated differentially by E-cadherin and N-cadherin in rat liver epithelial cells

Rajgopal Govindarajan, Souvik Chakraborty, Kristen E. Johnson, Matthias M. Falk, Margaret J. Wheelock, Keith R Johnson, Parmender P Mehta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Cadherins have been thought to facilitate the assembly of connexins (Cxs) into gap junctions (GJs) by enhancing cell- cell contact, however the molecular mechanisms involved in this process have remained unexplored. We examined the assembly of GJs composed of Cx43 in isogenic clones derived from immortalized and nontransformed rat liver epithelial cells that expressed either epithelial cadherin (E-Cad), which curbs the malignant behavior of tumor cells, or neuronal cadherin (N-Cad), which augments the invasive and motile behavior of tumor cells. We found that N-cad expression attenuated the assembly of Cx43 into GJs, whereas E-Cad expression facilitated the assembly. The expression of N-Cad inhibited GJ assembly by causing endocytosis of Cx43 via a nonclathrin-dependent pathway. Knock down of N-Cad by ShRNA restored GJ assembly. When both cadherins were simultaneously expressed in the same cell type, GJ assembly and disassembly occurred concurrently. Our findings demonstrate that E-Cad and N-Cad have opposite effects on the assembly of Cx43 into GJs in rat liver epithelial cells. These findings imply that GJ assembly and disassembly are the down-stream targets of the signaling initiated by E-Cad and N-Cad, respectively, and may provide one possible explanation for the disparate role played by these cadherins in regulating cell motility and invasion during tumor progression and invasion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4089-4107
Number of pages19
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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