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Keywords:

  • connexin;
  • gap junction;
  • intercellular communication;
  • differentiation;
  • placenta;
  • trophoblast;
  • skin;
  • epidermis

Abstract

The overlapping expression of gap junctional connexins in tissues has indicated that the channels may compensate for each other. During development, Cx31 and Cx43 are coexpressed in preimplantation embryos, in the spongiotrophoblast of the placenta and in the epidermis. This study shows that Cx31/Cx43 double-deficient mice exhibit the known phenotypes of the single-knockout strains but no combined effects. Thus, Cx43, coexpressed with Cx31 at midgestation in the spongiotrophoblast of the placenta, cannot be responsible for a partial rescue of the lethal Cx31 knockout phenotype, as assumed before (Plum et al. [ 2001] Dev Biol 231:334–337). It follows that both connexins have unique functions in placental development. Despite an altered expression of other epidermal connexin mRNAs, epidermal differentiation and physiology was unaltered by the absence of Cx31 and Cx43. Therefore, in epidermal and preimplantation development, gap junctional communication can probably be compensated by other isoforms coexpressed with Cx31 and Cx43. Developmental Dynamics 233:853–863, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.