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J Cell Sci. 2000 Apr;113 ( Pt 8):1365-72.

Selective permeability of different connexin channels to the second messenger inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate.

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  • 1Institut für Genetik, Abt. Molekulargenetik, Universität Bonn, Römerstr. 164, Germany.


Intercellular propagation of signals through connexin32-containing gap junctions is of major importance in physiological processes like nerve activity-dependent glucose mobilization in liver parenchymal cells and enzyme secretion from pancreatic acinar cells. In these cells, as in other organs, more than one type of connexin is expressed. We hypothesized that different permeabilities towards second messenger molecules could be one of the reasons for connexin diversity. In order to investigate this, we analyzed transmission of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-mediated calcium waves in FURA-2-loaded monolayers of human HeLa cells expressing murine connexin26, -32 or -43. Gap junction-mediated cell coupling in different connexin-transfected HeLa cells was standardized by measuring the spreading of microinjected Mn(2+) that led to local quenching of FURA-2 fluorescence. Microinjection of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate into confluently growing HeLa connexin32 transfectants induced propagation of a Ca(2+) wave from the injected cell to neighboring cells that was at least three- to fourfold more efficient than in HeLa Cx26 cells and about 2.5-fold more efficient than in HeLa Cx43 transfectants. Our results support the notion that diffusion of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate through connexin32-containing gap junctions is essential for the optimal physiological response, for example by recruiting liver parenchymal cells that contain subthreshold levels of this short lived second messenger.

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