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Biophys J. 1990 Nov;58(5):1213-26.

Correlation analysis of gap junction lattice images.

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Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254-9110.


Fourier averages of connexon images computed from low-irradiation electron micrographs of isolated negatively stained gap junction domains exhibited differences in stain distribution and connexon orientation. To analyze these polymorphic structures, correlation averaging methods were applied to images from negatively stained and frozen-hydrated specimens. For the negatively stained specimens, separate averages over two subsets of connexons with differing degrees of stain accumulation in the axial channel were obtained. Two populations of connexons with opposite skew orientations were distinguishable within a single junctional domain of a frozen-hydrated specimen. Correlation maps calculated using the left- and right-skewed references showed that the selected connexons tend to locally cluster. Using correlation methods to analyze packing disorder in a typical connexon lattice, we estimated the root-mean-square variation in the nearest neighbor pair separation to be approximately 11% of the lattice constant. Displacements of the connexons relative to each other increased with increasing pair separation in the lattice, rather like a liquid, although long-range orientation order was conserved as in a crystal. These results support the hypothesis that the hexagonal ordering of the connexons results from short-range repulsive forces.

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