The functional consequence of the casein kinase I-catalyzed phosphorylation of the lens gap junctional protein connexin49 was investigated using a sheep primary lens cell culture system. To determine whether the phosphorylation of connexin49 catalyzed by endogenous casein kinase I results in an altered junctional communication between lens cells, the effect of the casein kinase I-specific inhibitor CKI-7 on Lucifer Yellow dye transfer between cells in the lens culture was examined. Dye transfer was analyzed in cultures of different ages because we have demonstrated previously that the expression of connexin49 increases as the cultures age while that of connexin43, which is likely not a substrate for casein kinase I, has been shown to decrease [Yang & Louis (1999) Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 41: 2568–2564]. In 9-day old lens cultures, in which gap junctions are composed primarily of connexin43, CKI-7 had little effect on the rate of dye transfer between lens cells. In contrast, treatment of 15-day and 28-day old cultures with CKI-7 resulted in a significant increase in the rate of dye transfer. Thus, the extent of this CKI-7-dependent increase in cell-to-cell communication was positively correlated with the level of expression of connexin49, the major casein kinase I substrate in lens plasma membranes. These results suggest that the casein kinase I-catalyzed phosphorylation of connexin49 decreases cell communication between connexin49-containing gap junctions in the lens.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2001
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