Tetenborg S, Wang HY, Nemitz L, Depping A, Espejo AB, Aseervatham J, Bedford MT, Janssen-Bienhold U, O'Brien J and Dedek K.
Sci Rep 10, 18378 (2020)
Connexin36 (Cx36) is the most abundant connexin in central nervous system neurons. It forms gap junction channels that act as electrical synapses. Similar to chemical synapses, Cx36-containing gap junctions undergo activity-dependent plasticity and complex regulation. Cx36 gap junctions represent multimolecular complexes and contain cytoskeletal, regulatory and scaffolding proteins, which regulate channel conductance, assembly and turnover. The amino acid sequence of mammalian Cx36 harbors a phosphorylation site for the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II at serine 315. This regulatory site is homologous to the serine 298 in perch Cx35 and in close vicinity to a PDZ binding domain at the very C-terminal end of the protein. We hypothesized that this phosphorylation site may serve as a molecular switch, influencing the affinity of the PDZ binding domain for its binding partners. Protein microarray and pulldown experiments revealed that this is indeed the case: phosphorylation of serine 298 decreased the binding affinity for MUPP1, a known scaffolding partner of connexin36, and increased the binding affinity for two different 14–3–3 proteins. Although we did not find the same effect in cell culture experiments, our data suggest that phosphorylation of serine 315/298 may serve to recruit different proteins to connexin36/35-containing gap junctions in an activity-dependent manner.