Connexin43 is involved in the effect of endothelin-1 on astrocyte proliferation and glucose uptake.

PMID 18756537


In previous studies, we showed that endothelin-1 increased astrocyte proliferation and glucose uptake. These effects were similar to those observed with other gap junction inhibitors, such as carbenoxolone (CBX). Because 24-h treatment with endothelin-1 or CBX downregulates the expression of connexin43, the main protein forming astrocytic gap junctions, which can also be involved in proliferation, in this study, we addressed the possible role of connexin43 in the effects of endothelin-1. To do so, connexin43 was silenced in astrocytes by siRNA. The knock down of connexin43 increased the rate of glucose uptake, characterized by the upregulation of GLUT-1 and type I hexokinase. Neither endothelin-1 nor CBX were able to further increase the rate of glucose uptake in connexin43-silenced astrocytes. In agreement, no effects of endothelin-1 and CBX on GLUT-1 and type I hexokinase were observed in connexin-43 silenced astrocytes or in astrocytes from connexin43 knock-out (KO) mice. Our previous studies suggested a close relationship between glucose uptake and astrocyte proliferation. Consistent with this, connexin43-silenced astrocytes exhibited an increase in Ki-67, a marker of proliferation. The effects of ET-1 on retinoblastoma phosphorylation on Ser780 and on the upregulation of cyclins D1 and D3 were affected by the levels of connexin43. In conclusion, our results indicate that connexin43 participates in the effects of endothelin-1 on glucose uptake and proliferation in astrocytes. Interestingly, although the rate of growth in connexin43 KO astrocytes has been reported to be reduced, we observed that an acute reduction in connexin43 by siRNA increased proliferation and glucose uptake.