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Biophys J. 1994 Jun;66(6):1915-28.

Connexin37 forms high conductance gap junction channels with subconductance state activity and selective dye and ionic permeabilities.

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Department of Pharmacology, SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse 13210.


Gap junctions are thought to mediate the direct intercellular coupling of adjacent cells by the open-closed gating of an aqueous pore permeable to ions and molecules of up to 1 kDa or 10-14 A in diameter. We symmetrically altered the ionic composition or asymmetrically added 6-carboxyfluorescein (6-CF, M(r) = 376), a fluorescent tracer, to pairs of connexin37-transfected mouse neuro2A cells to examine the ionic and dye permeability of human connexin37 channels. We demonstrate that the 300-pS channel formed by connexin37 has an effective relative anion/cation permeability ratio of 0.43, directly converts to at least one intermediate (63 pS) subconductance state, and that 6-CF dye transfer is accompanied by a 24% decrease in unitary channel conductance. These observations favor a new interpretation of the gap junction pore consistent with direct ion-channel interactions or electrostatic charge effects common to more conventional multistate ion channels. These results have distinct implications about the different forms of intercellular signaling (cationic, ionic, and/or biochemical) that can occur depending on the expression and conformation of the connexin channel proteins.

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