To study the molecular mechanisms controlling the rapid increase in myometrial gap junctions observed in the parturient uterus, we have isolated a full-length cDNA clone corresponding to a rat uterine gap junction protein. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the cDNA clone reveals complete identity of the coding region with that of a previously reported heart gap junction protein (connexin43). Southern blot analysis suggests that the gene encoding this gap junction protein exists as a single copy in the rat haploid genome and contains no introns within the coding region. RNA blot analysis with this gap junction cDNA reveals a single 3.0-kb mRNA in uterine tissue without changes in transcript size throughout gestation. When normalized to the amount of 28S rRNA, the relative abundance of the connexin43 transcript in uterine tissue is quite constant between the nonpregnant state, during gestation, intrapartum, and postpartum. Similar size transcripts are shown by RNA blot analysis to be present in heart, lung, liver, brain, and skeletal muscle, and these transcripts are identified by the same 3'-nontranslated sequence probe. The results of these studies suggest that rat connexin43 is encoded by a single gene that is transcribed to identical transcripts in heart, uterus, and other tissues. They further suggest that changes in the abundance of connexin43 transcript are unlikely to be responsible for the abrupt increase in connexin43-containing myometrial gap junctions at term.