Role of hypoxia in expression and localization of Connexin 43
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Connexin 43 (Cx43) is a gap junction protein that enables direct cell-to-cell communication in many tissues of the body and stressful environments such as injury and hypoxia affect its expression. In addition to affecting Cx43 expression, hypoxia also retards wound-healing rates. Using rat corneal organ cultures, this thesis aims to define hypoxia's role in the expression and localization of Cx43 in wounded corneas. Tissue samples were stained immunohistochemically at three different time points after injury, 2.5 hours, 5 hours, and 18 hours. It was determined that under hypoxic conditions, Cx43 is more highly expressed than under normoxic conditions after injury. While Cx43 expression follows the same spatial pattern throughout the healing process in the cornea under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions, the pattern is delayed under hypoxic conditions. These results provide a possible reason why wound closure is delayed in low oxygen environments.