Ultraviolet A (UVA) (320-400 nm) radiation is known to cause cutaneous aging and skin cancer. We studied the effect of UVA (365 nm) radiation on the human epidermis by focusing on keratinocyte gap junction-mediated intercellular communication (GJIC). We observed a dose-dependent 10-fold decrease in GJIC induced by UVA in normal human keratinocytes. This decrease in GJIC was associated with time-dependent internalization of connexin43 (Cx43). UVA radiation also damaged the actin cytoskeleton, as shown by microfilament disappearance. Importantly, the decrease in GJIC was transient when keratinocytes were irradiated with 10 J/cm(2) UVA, with a return to baseline values after 8 h. Concomitantly, Cx43 was relocalized and the actin cytoskeleton was restored. UVA irradiation and 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) treatment activated protein kinase C and reduced GJIC. However, Cx43 localization and phosphorylation were differently regulated by the two treatments. This suggests that at least two different pathways may mediate the observed fall in GJIC. These findings identify keratinocyte GJIC as a new UVA target that might sensitize human skin to photoaging and cancer formation.