, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 285-290

Characterization of gap junctions between osteoblast-like cells in culture

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The structure of gap junctions in osteoblast-like cells (OBs) and the connexins (cx) that build up these structures were characterized by ultrastructural, immunocytochemical, and molecular techniques. Ultrastructural studies revealed numerous gap junctions which were mostly located on processes of neighboring cells. Immunofluorescence labeling using two different antibodies (specific to mouse live cx26 and cx32 and to a peptide-specific rat heart gap junction protein cx43) gave evidence that in OBs, gap junctions consist mainly of cx43. The presence of cx43 in cultured OB was also confirmed by Western blot analysis. Dye-coupling with Lucifer yellow led to a staining of up to 30 neighboring cells. Parallel intracellular recordings showed that membrane potential amplitude changes (4–5 mV) are typically related to those in the coupled cells. Thus, there is morphological and functional evidence for intercellular communication between OB in culture. OBs in culture express the same connexins as observed in vivo and may serve as a model to investigate electrophysiological events in response to different stimulation signals.