Acetylation of C-terminal lysines modulates protein turnover and stability of Connexin-32

Alaei, Sarah R.; Abrams, Charles K.; Bulinski, Jeannette Chloë; Hertzberg, Elliot L.; Freidin, Mona M.

The gap junction protein, Connexin32 (Cx32), is expressed in various tissues including liver, exocrine pancreas, gastrointestinal epithelium, and the glia of the central and peripheral nervous system. Gap junction-mediated cell-cell communication and channel-independent processes of Cx32 contribute to the regulation of physiological and cellular activities such as glial differentiation, survival, and proliferation; maintenance of the hepatic epithelium; and axonal myelination. Mutations in Cx32 cause X-linked Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease (CMT1X), an inherited peripheral neuropathy. Several CMT1X causing mutations are found in the cytoplasmic domains of Cx32, a region implicated in the regulation of gap junction assembly, turnover and function. Here we investigate the roles of acetylation and ubiquitination in the C-terminus on Cx32 protein function. Cx32 protein turnover, ubiquitination, and response to deacetylase inhibitors were determined for wild-type and C-terminus lysine mutants using transiently transfected Neuro2A (N2a) cells.

We report here that Cx32 is acetylated in transfected N2a cells and that inhibition of the histone deacetylase, HDAC6, results in an accumulation of Cx32. We identified five lysine acetylation targets in the C-terminus. Mutational analysis demonstrates that these lysines are involved in the regulation of Cx32 ubiquitination and turnover. While these lysines are not required for functional Cx32 mediated cell-cell communication, BrdU incorporation studies demonstrate that their relative acetylation state plays a channel-independent role in Cx32-mediated control of cell proliferation.

Taken together these results highlight the role of post translational modifications and lysines in the C-terminal tail of Cx32 in the fine-tuning of Cx32 protein stability and channel-independent functions.


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Also Published In

BMC Cell Biology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Pathology and Cell Biology
Biological Sciences
Published Here
March 8, 2019


Gap junctions, Acetylation, Ubiquitination, Cell-cell communication, Connexin