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Cell Commun Adhes. 2001;8(4-6):277-81.

Calmodulin colocalizes with connexins and plays a direct role in gap junction channel gating.

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University of Rochester, NY 14642-8711, USA.


The direct calmodulin (CaM) role in chemical gating was tested with CaM mutants, expressed in oocytes, and CaM-connexin labeling methods. CaMCC, a CaM mutant with greater Ca-sensitivity obtained by replacing the N-terminal EF hand pair with a duplication of the C-terminal pair, drastically increased the chemical gating sensitivity of Cx32 channels and decreased their Vj sensitivity. This only occurred when CaMCC was expressed before Cx32, suggesting that CaMCC, and by extension CaM, interacts with Cx32 before junction formation. Direct CaM-Cx interaction at junctional and cytoplasmic spots was demonstrated by confocal immunofluorescence microscopy in HeLa cells transfected with Cx32 and in cryosectioned mouse liver. This was confirmed in HeLa cells coexpressing Cx32-GFP (green) and CaM-RFP (red) or Cx32-CFP (cyan) and CaM-YFP (yellow) fusion proteins. Significantly, these cells did not form gap junctions. In contrast, HeLa cells expressing only one of the two fusion proteins (Cx32-GFP, Cx32-CFP, CaM-RFP or CaM-YFP) revealed both junctional and non-junctional fluorescent spots. In these cells, CaM-Cx32 colocalization was demonstrated by secondary immunofluorescent labeling of Cx32 in cells expressing CaM-YFP or CaM in cells expressing Cx32-GFP. CaM-Cx colocalization was further demonstrated at rat liver gap junctions by Freeze-fracture Replica Immunogold Labeling (FRIL).

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