Research Papers: Pathology:

Nitric oxide, PKC-ε, and connexin43 are crucial for ischemic preconditioning-induced chemical gap junction uncoupling

Bing Rong, Fei Xie, Tao Sun, Li Hao, Ming-Jie Lin and Jing-Quan Zhong _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:69243-69255. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12087

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Bing Rong1,*, Fei Xie1,*, Tao Sun1,2, Li Hao1,2, Ming-Jie Lin1,2 and Jing-Quan Zhong1

1 The Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Remodeling and Function Research, Chinese Ministry of Education and Chinese Ministry of Health, The State and Shandong Province Joint Key Laboratory of Translational Cardiovascular Medicine, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong, China

2 School of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, China

* These authors have contributed equally to the work

Correspondence to:

Jing-Quan Zhong, email:

Keywords: ischemic preconditioning; nitric oxide; PKC-ε; connexin43; gap junction coupling; Pathology Section

Received: June 13, 2016 Accepted: September 05, 2016 Published: September 16, 2016


Ischemic preconditioning (IPC) maintains connexin43 (Cx43) phosphorylation and reduces chemical gap junction (GJ) coupling in cardiomyocytes to protect against ischemic damage. However, the signal transduction pathways underlying these effects are not fully understood. Here, we investigated whether nitric oxide (NO) and protein kinase C-ε (PKC-ε) contribute to IPC-induced cardioprotection by maintaining Cx43 phosphorylation and inhibiting chemical GJ coupling. IPC reduced ischemia-induced myocardial infarction and increased cardiomyocyte survival; phosphorylated Cx43, eNOS, and PKC-ε levels; and chemical GJ uncoupling. Administration of the NO donor SNAP mimicked the effects of IPC both in vivo and in vitro, maintaining Cx43 phosphorylation, promoting chemical GJ uncoupling, and reducing myocardial infarction. Preincubation with the NO synthase inhibitor L-NAME or PKC-ε translocation inhibitory peptide (PKC-ε-TIP) abolished these effects of IPC. Additionally, by inducing NO production, IPC induced translocation of PKC-ε, but not PKC-δ, from the cytosolic to the membrane fraction in primary cardiac myocytes. IPC-induced cardioprotection thus involves increased NO production, PKC-ε translocation, Cx43 phosphorylation, and chemical GJ uncoupling.

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