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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Mar 23;1662(1-2):61-80.

Chemical gating of gap junction channels; roles of calcium, pH and calmodulin.

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Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642-8711, USA.


Both Ca(2+) and H(+) play a role in chemical gating of gap junction channels, but, with the possible exception of Cx46 hemichannels, neither of them is likely to induce gating by a direct interaction with connexins. Some evidence suggests that low pH(i) affects gating via an increase in [Ca(2+)](i); in turn, Ca(2+) is likely to induce gating by activation of CaM, which may act directly as a gating particle. The effective concentrations of both Ca(2+) and H(+) vary depending on cell type, type of connexin expressed and procedure employed to increase their cytosolic concentrations; however, pH(i) as high as 7.2 and [Ca(2+)](i) as low as 150 nM or lower have been reported to be effective in some cells. Some data suggest that Ca(2+) and H(+) affect gating by acting synergistically, but other data do not support synergism. Chemical gating follows the activation of a slow gate distinct from the fast V(j)-sensitive gate, and there is evidence that the chemical/slow gate is V(j)-sensitive. At the single channel level, the chemical/slow gate closes the channels slowly and completely, whereas the fast V(j) gate closes the channels rapidly and incompletely. At least three molecular models of channel gating have been proposed, but all of them are mostly based on circumstantial evidence.

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