Gap junctions in the chicken pineal gland

Viviana M. Berthoud, David H. Hall, Erwin Strahsburger, Eric C. Beyer, Juan C. Sáez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The chicken pineal gland, which contains a heterogeneous cell population, sustains a circadian rhythm of activity. Synchronization of cellular activity of heterogeneous cells might be facilitated by gap junctional intercellular channels which are permeable to ions and second messengers. To test this possibility, we looked for morphologically identifiable gap junctions between the different pineal cells, used antibodies and cDNA probes to screen for the presence of connexins, and tested for functional intercellular coupling. By transmission electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry, gap junctions and connexins were observed between pinealocyte cell bodies, stromal cells, astrocytes, and astrocyte and pinealocyte processes. Two gap junctional proteins, connexin43 and connexin45, were detected by immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting and RNA blot analysis. Functional intercellular coupling was observed in the gland by transfer of low molecular weight dyes. Dye transferred between homologous and heterologous cells. These data suggest that homologous and heterologous gap junctions may provide a mechanism for coordination of the cellular responses of the elements of the biological clock which are induced by lighting cues to produce the circadian rhythm of pineal activity. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-270
Number of pages14
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 14 2000


  • Astrocyte
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Connexin
  • Dye coupling
  • Intercellular communication
  • Pinealocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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