Coupling of astrocyte connexins Cx26, Cx30, Cx43 to oligodendrocyte Cx29, Cx32, Cx47: Implications from normal and connexin32 knockout mice



Oligodendrocytes in vivo form heterologous gap junctions with astrocytes. These oligodendrocyte/astrocyte (A/O) gap junctions contain multiple connexins (Cx), including Cx26, Cx30, and Cx43 on the astrocyte side, and Cx32, Cx29, and Cx47 on the oligodendrocyte side. We investigated connexin associations at A/O gap junctions on oligodendrocytes in normal and Cx32 knockout (KO) mice. Immunoblotting and immunolabeling by several different antibodies indicated the presence of Cx32 in liver and brain of normal mice, but the absence of Cx32 in liver and brain of Cx32 KO mice, confirming the specificity and efficacy of the antibodies, as well as allowing the demonstration of Cx32 expression by oligodendrocytes. Oligodendrocytes throughout brain were decorated with numerous Cx30-positive puncta, which also were immunolabeled for both Cx32 and Cx43. In Cx32 KO mice, astrocytic Cx30 association with oligodendrocyte somata was nearly absent, Cx26 was partially reduced, and Cx43 was present in abundance. In normal and Cx32 KO mice, oligodendrocyte Cx29 was sparsely distributed, whereas Cx47-positive puncta were densely localized on oligodendrocyte somata. These results demonstrate that astrocyte Cx30 and oligodendrocyte Cx47 are widely present at A/O gap junctions. Immunolabeling patterns for these six connexins in Cx32 KO brain have implications for deciphering the organization of heterotypic connexin coupling partners at A/O junctions. The persistence and abundance of Cx43 and Cx47 at these junctions after Cx32 deletion, together with the paucity of Cx29 normally present at these junctions, suggests Cx43/Cx47 coupling at A/O junctions. Reductions in Cx30 and Cx26 after Cx32 deletion suggest that these astrocytic connexins likely form junctions with Cx32 and that their incorporation into A/O gap junctions is dependent on the presence of oligodendrocytic Cx32. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.