The Development-associated Cleavage of Lens Connexin 45.6 by Caspase-3-like Protease Is Regulated by Casein Kinase II-mediated Phosphorylation

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Abstract

Gap junctions are important in maintaining lens transparency and metabolic homeostasis. In this paper, we report that the gap junction-forming protein, connexin (Cx) 45.6, was specifically truncated during lens development and that the majority of the truncated fragments were located in the differentiated lens fibers. When isolated lens membranes were treated by caspase-3, the truncated fragments of Cx45.6 were reproduced, and this truncation occurred at the COOH terminus of Cx45.6. Moreover, when primary lens cells were treated with apoptosis-inducing reagents, Cx45.6 was cleaved similarly as the in vitro treatment by caspase-3, and this cleavage was blocked by a caspase-3 inhibitor. These results suggest that caspase-3 is responsible for the development-associated cleavage of Cx45.6. The cleavage site of Cx45.6 was identified between amino acid residues Glu367 and Gly368. We have shown previously that Ser363 is an in vivo phosphorylated site by casein kinase II, and this specific phosphorylation leads to a rapid turnover of Cx45.6. Interestingly, we found here that when Ser363 was phosphorylated by casein kinase II, the cleavage of Cx45.6 catalyzed by caspase-3 was inhibited. This study, for the first time, demonstrates that a connexin can be a direct target of an apoptotic protease and that cleavage by caspase-3-like protease leads to the development-associated truncation of a lens connexin. Finally, caspase-3-mediated cleavage can be regulated by casein kinase II-mediated phosphorylation, suggesting that Cx45.6 turnover and specific cleavage by caspase-3-like protease is alternatively modulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34567-34572
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume276
Issue number37
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 14 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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