Gap junctions (GJs) provide for a unique system of intercellular communication (IC) allowing rapid transport of small molecules from cell to cell. GJs are formed by a large family of proteins named connexins (Cxs). Cx43 has been considered as the predominantly expressed Cx by hematopoietic-supporting stroma. To investigate the role of the Cx family in hemopoiesis, we analyzed the expression of 11 different Cx species in different stromal cell lines derived from murine bone marrow (BM) or fetal liver (FL). We found that up to 5 Cxs are expressed in FL stromal cells (Cx43, Cx45, Cx30.3, Cx31, and Cx31.1), whereas only Cx43, Cx45, and Cx31 were clearly detectable in BM stromal cells. In vivo, the Cx43-deficient 14.5- to 15-day FL cobblestone area-forming cells (CAFC)-week 1-4 and colony-forming unit contents were 26%-38% and 39%-47% lower than in their wild-type counterparts, respectively. The reintroduction of the Cx43 gene into Cx43-deficient FL stromal cells was able to restore their diminished IC to the level of the wild-type FL stromal cells. In addition, these Cx43-reintroduced stromal cells showed an increased support ability (3.7-fold) for CAFC-week 1 in normal mouse BM and 5-fold higher supportive ability for CAFC-week 4 in 5-fluorouracil-treated BM cells as compared with Cx43-deficient FL stromal cells. These findings suggest that stromal Cx43-mediated IC, although not responsible for all GJ-mediated IC of stromal cells, plays a role in the supportive ability for hemopoietic progenitors and stem cells. (Blood. 2000;96:498-505)

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Cancelas, J. A., de Koning, A., Mayen, A., Rombouts, E., Ploemacher, R., & Koevoet, W. (2000). Connexin-43 gap junctions are involved in multiconnexin-expressing stromal support of hemopoietic progenitors and stem cells. Blood. Retrieved from