Multiple connexins localized to individual gap-junctional plaques in human myometrial smooth muscle
Article first published online: 14 JUN 2001
Copyright © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Microscopy Research and Technique
Special Issue: Studies on Microglia in vitro—Part II
Volume 54, Issue 2, pages 114–122, 15 July 2001
How to Cite
Kilarski, W. M., Rothery, S., Roomans, G. M., Ulmsten, U., Rezapour, M., Stevenson, S., Coppen, S. R., Dupont, E. and Severs, N. J. (2001), Multiple connexins localized to individual gap-junctional plaques in human myometrial smooth muscle. Microsc. Res. Tech., 54: 114–122. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1126
- Issue published online: 14 JUN 2001
- Article first published online: 14 JUN 2001
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 DEC 2000
- Manuscript Received: 8 SEP 2000
- Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Initiative. Grant Number: 039629/Z/93/Z
- Jagiellonian University. Grant Number: DS/ZCH/IZ/2000
- intercellular communication;
The synchronous contractions of the uterus in labour depend on electrical coupling of myometrial smooth muscle cells by gap junctions. In the human myometrium, gap junctions are scarce in the non-pregnant uterus, but become abundant at term in preparation for labour. We have previously demonstrated that in the human myometrium at term, three different gap-junctional proteins are expressed, connexins 43, 45, and 40. These connexins are known to have distinctive functional capacities in in vitro expression systems but whether, in the human myometrium in vivo, they are co-assembled into the same gap junction or form different types of gap junction has previously been unclear. By applying triple immunogold labelling to sections of Lowicryl-embedded tissue for electron microscopy, together with complementary immunoconfocal microscopy, we demonstrate here that connexins 43, 45, and 40 are commonly present as mixtures within the same gap-junctional plaque. While all gap junctions contain connexin43, the relative signal for each connexin type varies between individual junctions. The presence within single gap-junctional plaques of three different connexins, each with the potential for conferring distinctive channel properties, suggests an inherent versatility for modulation of smooth muscle cell intercellular communication properties during human parturition. Microsc. Res. Tech. 54:114–122, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.