Heterocellular contact at the myoendothelial junction influences gap junction organization.

Research paper by Brant E BE Isakson, Brian R BR Duling

Indexed on: 18 Jun '05Published on: 18 Jun '05Published in: Circulation research


Heterocellular communication between vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) and endothelial cells (EC) at the myoendothelial junction (MEJ) is a critical part of control of the arteriolar wall. We have developed an in vitro model of the MEJ composed of primary cultures of murine EC and VSMC. Immunoctytochemistry and immunoblots demonstrated Cx37 and Cx43 in both cell types, whereas Cx40 was found only in EC. Cx37 was excluded from the MEJ in both EC and VSMC. Connexin composition as well as functionality of the gap junctions at the MEJ was assessed by measuring diffusional transfer of biocytin and Cy3. Using connexin-specific blockers and manipulations of expression of individual connexin proteins, we confirmed that Cx37 is not a part of EC-VSMC coupling, and we demonstrated that heterotypic gap junctions are functional at the MEJ. We speculate that specific gap junction organization may be a vital component of EC-VSMC contact at the MEJ.