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Biophys J. 1995 May;68(5):1796-803.

Distinct behavior of connexin56 and connexin46 gap junctional channels can be predicted from the behavior of their hemi-gap-junctional channels.

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Department of Pharmacology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


The gap-junctional protein rat connexin46 (Cx46) has the unusual ability to form voltage-gated channels in the nonjunctional plasma membrane of Xenopus oocytes (Paul et al., 1991; Ebihara and Steiner, 1993). These have been suggested to be gap-junctional hemichannels or connexons. The Xenopus oocyte system was used to characterize the functional properties of a closely related lens gap-junctional protein, chicken connexin56 (Cx56) (Rup et al., 1993) and to contrast them to those of rat Cx46. Single oocytes injected with either Cx56 or Cx46 cRNA developed time-dependent, outward currents that activated on depolarization. The currents induced by Cx56 and Cx46 showed differences in steady-state voltage dependence and in their degree of rectification. Furthermore, the voltage-dependent properties of the nonjunctional channels induced by the connexin cRNAs in external solutions containing low concentrations of calcium ions could account remarkably well for the behavior of the intercellular channels formed by Cx56 and Cx46 in paired oocytes. These results suggest that many of the voltage-dependent properties of the hemi-gap-junctional channels are retained by the intercellular channels.

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