Heterocellular gap junctional communication between alveolar epithelial cells

Valsamma Abraham, Michael L. Chou, Philip George, Patricia Pooler, Aisha Zaman, Rashmin C. Savani, Michael Koval

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


We analyzed the pattern of gap junction protein (connexin) expression in vivo by indirect immunofluorescence. In normal rat lung sections, connexin (Cx)32 was expressed by type II cells, whereas Cx43 was more ubiquitously expressed and Cx46 was expressed by occasional alveolar epithelial cells. In response to bleomycin-induced lung injury, Cx46 was upregulated by alveolar epithelial cells, whereas Cx32 and Cx43 expression were largely unchanged. Given that Cx46 may form gap junction channels with either Cx43 or Cx32, we examined the ability of primary alveolar epithelial cells cultured for 6 days, which express Cx43 and Cx46, to form heterocellular gap junctions with cells expressing other connexins. Day 6 alveolar epithelial cells formed functional gap junctions with other day 6 cells or with HeLa cells transfected with Cx43 (HeLa/Cx43), but they did not communicate with HeLa/Cx32 cells. Furthermore, day 6 alveolar epithelial cells formed functional gap junction channels with freshly isolated type II cells. Taken together, these data are consistent with the notion that type I and type II alveolar epithelial communicate through gap junctions compatible with Cx43.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L1085-L1093
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6 24-6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Bleomycin
  • Cell junctions
  • Cell-cell interactions
  • Connexin
  • Differentiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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