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Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 10;9(1):19. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37221-2.

Connexin43 mutations linked to skin disease have augmented hemichannel activity.

Author information

1
Department of Biological and Vision Sciences, State University of New York College of Optometry, New York, NY, 10036, USA.
2
Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794, USA.
3
MS program in Biomedical Sciences (Physiology and Biophysics track), Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794, USA.
4
Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794, USA. thomas.white@stonybrook.edu.

Abstract

Mutations in the gene (GJA1) encoding connexin43 (Cx43) are responsible for several rare genetic disorders, including non-syndromic skin-limited diseases. Here we used two different functional expression systems to characterize three Cx43 mutations linked to palmoplantar keratoderma and congenital alopecia-1, erythrokeratodermia variabilis et progressiva, or inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus. In HeLa cells and Xenopus oocytes, we show that Cx43-G8V, Cx43-A44V and Cx43-E227D all formed functional gap junction channels with the same efficiency as wild-type Cx43, with normal voltage gating and a unitary conductance of ~110 pS. In HeLa cells, all three mutations also localized to regions of cell-cell contact and displayed a punctate staining pattern. In addition, we show that Cx43-G8V, Cx43-A44V and Cx43-E227D significantly increase membrane current flow through formation of active hemichannels, a novel activity that was not displayed by wild-type Cx43. The increased membrane current was inhibited by either 2 mM calcium, or 5 µM gadolinium, mediated by hemichannels with a unitary conductance of ~250 pS, and was not due to elevated mutant protein expression. The three Cx43 mutations all showed the same gain of function activity, suggesting that augmented hemichannel activity could play a role in skin-limited diseases caused by human Cx43 mutations.

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