Verhandelingen - Koninklijke Academie voor Geneeskunde van België. vol:62 issue:6 pages:501-63
Calcium is one of the most universal signal-transduction elements in a large variety of cells ranging from bacteria to specialized neurons. Ca2+ acts as a second messenger controlling such processes as secretion, cell differentiation or signal transmission. In order to be able to execute their specific functions and to react in a coordinated way to stimuli, multicellular organs need a precise orchestration of cellular functions. For this purpose cells have developed different forms of intercellular communication (IC). In this study we investigated a number of mechanisms of intracellular propagation and IC using experiments with fluorescent Ca(2+)-indicators, confocal microscopy and digital imaging techniques. In ROS 17/2.8 osteoblasts, retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE) and CPAE endothelial cells, a small mechanical deformation of the plasma membrane results in a transient increase of free cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i). This Ca(2+)-rise starts at the site of stimulation and propagates concentrically to neighboring cell layers. The intracellular Ca(2+)-wave in RPE and ROS cells is caused by Ca(2+)-influx followed by Ca(2+)-release from the intracellular stores and by intercellular propagation of the Ca(2+)-wave. The [Ca2+]i-transient upon mechanical stimulation of LLC-PK1 epithelial cells, C6 glioma cells and MLO-Y4 osteocytes was limited and/or variable. In CPAE cells only the intracellular release is important for evoking the Ca(2+)-transient, and is followed by IC. IC can occur via gap junctions (GJ) consisting of membrane-spanning proteins, connexins (Cx). It was demonstrated that IC and GJ in RPE and ROS cells can be reversibly blocked by gap-junction inhibitors such as heptanol or halothane. We demonstrated important differences in modulation of gap junctional communication between these cell types. While in RPE cells stimulation of PKC activity was able to inhibit IC, this was not the case in ROS cells. We screened LE-RPE cDNA via PCR using specific primers for different connexins and found no effect of high glucose solutions, which cause decreased intercellular communication, on the Cx-isoforms expressed. Cx43 is the only Cx-isoform present at the protein level for which Western blot analysis revealed the presence of different forms corresponding to different phosphorylated states. Increased phosphorylation of Cx43 was only seen after direct PKC activation by PMA, but not by indirect PKC activation by high glucose levels. The decreased communication by high glucose concentrations was however associated by a decreased expression of cellular Cx43 to about 3/4 of the level in control conditions. High glucose concentrations therefore decrease Cx43 at the protein level via a PKC effect that appears to be independent of the direct activation of PKC by phorbolesters. Mechanical stimulation did not evoke intercellular Ca(2+)-waves in LLC-PK1 epithelial cells, C6 glioma cells and MLO-Y4 osteocytes. In CPAE-endothelial cells, the contribution of gap junctions to IC following mechanical stimulation is negligible, and modulation of gap junctions via phosphorylation or high glucose solutions is absent. Perfusion experiments and pharmacological studies demonstrated that IC following mechanical stimulation of these cells occurs via release of an extracellular mediator. Our experiments provide strong evidence in favor of purinergic agonists as mediators, such as ATP but mainly ADP. In conclusion we can say that cells contain a wide spectrum of mechanisms for intra- and intercellular communication, and that widely different mechanisms can evoke the same phenomenon of intra- and intercellular Ca(2+)-waves.