Connexin43 phosphorylation at S368 is acute during S and G2/M and in response to protein kinase C activation.
Currently little is known about the regulation of gap junction communication in the lens. We report here on the effects of the protein kinase C activator, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), on cultured bovine lens cells which appeared to be epithelial in nature. Dramatically reduced intercellular transfer of the fluorescent dye Lucifer yellow was observed when the cultured lens cells were treated with octanol, a known inhibitor of gap junction communication. TPA (4 beta isomer) was also shown to reduce intercellular permeability within these cultures. In contrast, an inactive form of TPA, 4 alpha-TPA, did not decrease dye transfer. Permeability was evaluated in terms of both the number of cells receiving dye and the rate of decrease in fluorescence intensity in the injected cell. The maximum decreases in dye transfer occurred at 2 h of TPA treatment and dye transfer gradually increased to control levels over a time course of many hours. Incubation of cultures with 32Pi and immunoprecipitation using antibodies to the N- and C-terminal regions of connexin43 demonstrated a gap junction phosphoprotein of 43,000 Da. Phosphorylation of connexin43 increased during the first 2 h of TPA treatment. These results suggest that protein kinase C has a direct or indirect effect on gap junction communication in cultured lens cells.