Characterization and regulation of gap junctions in porcine ciliary epithelium

Stanley Ka Lok Li, Sze Wan Shan, Hoi Lam Li, Angela King Wah Cheng, Feng Pan, Shea Ping Yip, Mortimer M. Civan, Chi Ho To, Chi Wai Do (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE. Gap junctions provide a conduit between the intracellular fluids of the pigmented (PE) and non-pigmented (NPE) ciliary epithelial cells, and are therefore critical in the secretion of the aqueous humor (AH). However, opinions differ concerning the connexin (Cx) composition of the gap junctions. Therefore, we aimed to characterize the expression of Cx in the porcine ciliary epithelium (CE), a favorable model for humans; and determine the contribution of the highest expressed Cx to AH secretion. METHODS. Freshly-harvested porcine CE cells were used. The mRNA and protein expressions of gap junctions were assessed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting (WB), respectively. The relative gene expressions of various Cx were determined by quantitative PCR. The gap junction permeability of isolated PE-NPE cell couplets was evaluated by Lucifer Yellow dye transfer. RESULTS. Using RT-PCR and WB, Cx43, Cx45, Cx47, Cx50, and Cx60 were present in porcine CE, with Cx43 being the most abundant isoform, having over 200-fold higher expression than other Cx. Cx43 was primarily localized in the PE-NPE interface and the basolateral membranes of PE cells. Knockdown of Cx43 by siRNA significantly reduced gene and protein expressions, resulting in reduction of transcellular fluid flow by 90%. CONCLUSIONS. Cx43 was found to be the major component of gap junctions in porcine CE. Consistent with results from a bovine model, our results support the important role of Cx43 in mediating AH secretion. This finding may shed light on the development of a novel ocular hypotensive agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3461-3468
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Aqueous humor formation
  • Ciliary epithelium
  • Connexin 43
  • Gap junctions
  • Glaucoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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