Lack of connexin 40 decreases the calcium sensitivity of renin-secreting juxtaglomerular cells

  • Dominik Steppan
  • Lisa Geis
  • Lin Pan
  • Kenneth Gross
  • Charlotte Wagner
  • Armin Kurtz
Signaling and cell physiology
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Signaling and cell physiology


The so-called calcium paradoxon of renin describes the phenomenon that exocytosis of renin from juxtaglomerular cells of the kidney is stimulated by lowering of the extracellular calcium concentration. The yet poorly understood effect of extracellular calcium on renin secretion appears to depend on the function of the gap junction protein connexin 40 (Cx40) in renin-producing cells. This study aimed to elucidate the role of Cx40 for the calcium dependency of renin secretion in more detail by investigating if Cx40 function is really essential for the influence of extracellular calcium on renin secretion, if and how Cx40 affects intracellular calcium dynamics in renin-secreting cells and if Cx40-mediated gap junctional coupling of renin-secreting cells with the mesangial cell area is relevant for the influence of extracellular calcium on renin secretion. Renin secretion was studied in isolated perfused mouse kidneys. Calcium measurements were performed in renin-producing cells of microdissected glomeruli. The ultrastructure of renin-secreting cells was examined by electron microscopy. We found that Cx40 was not essential for stimulation of renin secretion by lowering of the extracellular calcium concentration. Instead, Cx40 increased the sensitivity of renin secretion response towards lowering of the extracellular calcium concentration. In line, the sensitivity and dynamics of intracellular calcium in response to lowering of extracellular calcium were dampened when renin-secreting cells lacked Cx40. Disruption of gap junctional coupling of renin-secreting cells by selective deletion of Cx40 from mesangial cells, however, did not change the stimulation of renin secretion by lowering of the extracellular calcium concentration. Deletion of Cx40 from renin cells but not from mesangial cells was associated with a shift of renin expression from perivascular cells of afferent arterioles to extraglomerular mesangial cells. Our findings suggest that Cx40 is not directly involved in the regulation of renin secretion by extracellular calcium. Instead, it appears that in renin-secreting cells of the kidney lacking Cx40, intracellular calcium dynamics and therefore also renin secretion are desensitized towards changes of extracellular calcium. Whether the dampened calcium response of renin-secreting cells lacking Cx40 function results from a direct involvement of Cx40 in intracellular calcium regulation or from the cell type shift of renin expression from perivascular to mesangial cells remains to be clarified. In any case, Cx40-mediated gap junctional coupling between renin and mesangial cells is not relevant for the calcium paradoxon of renin secretion.


Connexin 40 Renin Calcium juxtaglomerular cells Calcium paradoxon 



The expert technical assistance provided by Ramona Steppan and by Robert Götz is gratefully acknowledged.


The authors’ work was financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG, SFB 699) and by Roswell Park Cancer Institute and National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant P30CA016056.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhysiologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  2. 2.Clinic for NephrologyUniversity Hospital RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of PathologyBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Molecular and Cellular BiologyRoswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffaloUSA

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