The gap junction protein connexin43 is a phosphoprotein that typically migrates as three bands (nonphosphorylated, P1 and P2) during polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The electrophoretic mobility of connexin43 from mitotic cells was distinctly reduced to a form (P3) that migrated slower than P2 from Rat1 cells prepared by shakeoff of nocodazole-treated and untreated cultures. Mitotic FT210 cells, which contain a temperature-sensitive mutation in the p34(cdc2) kinase, showed abundant levels of the P3 connexin43 when maintained at the permissive temperature where p34(cdc2) is active. In contrast, nocodozole-treated FT210 cells grown at the nonpermissive temperature did not contain P3 connexin43. These results indicated that generation of the P3 connexin43 was dependent upon active p34(cdc2)/cyclin B kinase. Although the p34(cdc2)kinase phosphorylated connexin43 in vitro on peptides containing serine 255, the major phosphotryptic peptides in P3 connexin43 from mitotic cells appeared to be the consequence of another protein kinase(s), which may be activated by the p34(cdc2)/cyclin B kinase. The P3 connexin43 exhibited a marked redistribution from cell-cell plasma membrane interfaces to multiple, distinctly stained cytoplasmic structures. These events may be part of the dramatic structural changes observed in mitotic cells undergoing cell rounding and cytokinesis. Results of initial studies using inhibitors of protein degradative and synthetic pathways suggested the likelihood that protein degradation and synthesis participate in the disappearance of the P3 connexin43 and restoration of the pattern of connexin43 isoforms observed in nonmitotic cells.

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