A team of researchers, led by Uta Hoppe, at the University of Cologne, Germany, has identified a role for the protein connexin 43 in protecting mouse heart muscle cells from death.
The team therefore suggests that it might be an attractive target for therapies that help protect cells from injuries that normally result in death, such as the injuries suffered by cells as a result of heart attack.
Several lines of evidence indicate that the PKC protein and mitoKATP potassium channels in the inner mitochondrial membrane have a central role in protecting cells from death. In the study, connexin 43 was found to be required for mitoKATP activation of PKC. Importantly, this pathway was crucial for protecting mouse heart muscle cells from death.
The research appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
- Dennis Rottlaender, Kerstin Boengler, Martin Wolny, Guido Michels, Jeannette Endres-Becker, Lukas J. Motloch, Astrid Schwaiger, Astrid Buechert, Rainer Schulz, Gerd Heusch and Uta C. Hoppe. Connexin 43 acts as a cytoprotective mediator of signal transduction by stimulating mitochondrial KATP channels in mouse cardiomyocytes. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2010; DOI: 10.1172/JCI40927
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