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Cell Commun Adhes. 2003 Jul-Dec;10(4-6):245-9.

Functioning of cx43 hemichannels demonstrated by single channel properties.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY 10461, USA.


It has been suggested that the opening of non-junctional connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannels may play a role in cell physiology, but some workers doubt the reality of hemichannel openings. Here we show data on unitary conductance and voltage gating properties demonstrating that Cx43 hemichannels can open. Membrane depolarization > +60 mV induced single hemichannel currents in HeLa cells expressing Cx43 or Cx43 with enhanced green fluorescent protein attached to the carboxy terminal (Cx43-EGFP). The conductance of single hemichannels was approximately 220 pS, about twice that of the cell-cell channels. Cx43 and Cx43-EGFP hemichannels exhibited slow transitions (>5 ms) between closed and fully open states. Cx43 hemichannels also exhibited fast transitions (<1 ms) between the fully open state and a substate of approximately 75 pS. Similar gating was described for their respective cell-cell channels. No comparable single channel activity was detected in the parental (nontransfected cells) or HeLa cells expressing Cx43 fused at the amino terminal with EGFP (EGFP-Cx43). The latter chimera was inserted into the surface and formed plaques, but did not express functional hemichannels or cell-cell channels. These data convincingly demonstrate the opening of Cx43 hemichannels.

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