ERGIC2 and ERGIC3 Regulate the ER-To-Golgi Transport of Gap Junction Proteins in Metazoans

Liying Guan, Yongzhi Yang, Jing Jing Liang, Yue Miao, Ang Yang Shang, Baolei Wang, Ying Chun Wang, Mei Ding

DOI: 10.1111/tra.12830


The extremely dynamic life cycle of gap junction connections requires highly efficient intracellular trafficking system especially designed for gap junction proteins, but the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, we identified that the COPII-associated proteins ERGIC2 (ER-Golgi intermediate compartment) and ERGIC3 are specifically required for the efficient intracellular transport of gap junction proteins in both C. elegans and mice. In the absence of Ergic2 or Ergic3, gap junction proteins accumulate in the ER and Golgi apparatus and the size of endogenous gap junction plaques is reduced. Knocking out the Ergic2 or Ergic3 in mice results in heart enlargement and cardiac malfunction accompanied by reduced number and size of connexin 43 (Cx43) gap junctions. Invertebrates' gap junction protein innexins share no sequence similarity with vertebrates' connexins. However, ERGIC2 and ERGIC3 could bind to gap junction proteins in both worms and mice. Characterization of the highly specialized roles of ERGIC2 and ERGIC3 in metazoans reveals how the early secretory pathway could be adapted to facilitate the efficient transport for gap junction proteins in vivo.