Connexon-mediated cell adhesion drives microtissue self-assembly

Bao B, Jiang J, Yanase T, Nishi Y, Morgan JR.
Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology, Center for Biomedical Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.

Microtissue self-assembly is thought to be driven primarily by cadherins, while connexons have been examined mainly in intercellular coupling. We investigated whether connexon 43 (Cx43)-mediated cell adhesion modulates self-assembly of human KGN granulosa cells, normal human fibroblasts (NHFs), and MCF-7 breast cancer cells seeded into nonadhesive agarose gels. We found that treatment with anti-Cx43 E2 (112 μg/ml), which suppresses Cx43 docking, significantly inhibited the kinetics of KGN and NHF self-assembly compared to the preimmune sera control (41.1 ± 4.5 and 24.5 ± 10.4% at 8 h, respectively). Likewise, gap junction inhibitor carbenoxolone also inhibited self-assembly of KGN, NHF, and MCF-7 cells in a dose-dependent manner that was specific to cell type. In contrast, Gap26 connexin mimetic peptide, which inhibits channel permeability but not docking, accelerated self-assembly of KGN and NHF microtissues. Experiments using selective enzymatic digestion of cell adhesion molecules and neutralizing N-cadherin antibodies further showed that self-assembly was comparably disrupted by inhibiting connexin- and cadherin-mediated adhesion. These findings demonstrate that connexon-mediated cell adhesion and intercellular communication differentially influence microtissue self-assembly, and that their contributions are comparable to those of cadherins.

3D Petri Dishes™ used in this paper (please click catalog numbers for detailed product descriptions):
Catalog #12-60TR and 24-24TR are the MicroTissues Inc products used to measure the rate of self-assembly and rod contraction. Catalog # 12-256, and 24-96 are the MicroTissues, Inc products that grow small spheroids. Catalog # 12-81 and 24-35 are used to grow larger spheroids.

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