Connexin expression by alveolar epithelial cells is regulated by extracellular matrix

Yihe Guo, Cara Martinez-Williams, Clare E Yellowley-genetos, Henry J. Donahue, D. Eugene Rannels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins promote attachment, spreading, and differentiation of cultured alveolar type II epithelial cells. The present studies address the hypothesis that the ECM also regulates expression and function of gap junction proteins, connexins, in this cell population. Expression of cellular fibronectin and connexin (Cx) 43 increase in parallel during early type II cell culture as Cx26 expression declines. Gap junction intercellular communication is established over the same interval. Cells plated on a preformed, type II cell-derived, fibronectinrich ECM demonstrate accelerated formation of gap junction plaques and elevated gap junction intercellular communication. These effects are blocked by antibodies against fibronectin, which cause redistribution of Cx43 protein from the plasma membrane to the cytoplasm. Conversely, cells cultured on a laminin-rich ECM, Matrigel, express low levels of Cx43 but high levels of Cx26, reflecting both transcriptional and translational regulation. Cx26 and Cx43 thus demonstrate reciprocal regulation by ECM constituents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2 24-2
StatePublished - Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell-extracellular matrix interactions
  • Connexin 26
  • Connexin 43
  • Gap junction
  • Lung

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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