Isoform composition of connexin channels determines selectivity among second messengers and uncharged molecules

Carville G. Bevans, Marianne Kordel, Seung K. Rhee, Andrew L. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations


Intercellular connexin channels (gap junction channels) have long been thought to mediate molecular signaling between cells, but the nature of the signaling has been unclear. This study shows that connexin channels from native tissue have selective permeabilities, partially based on pore diameter, that discriminate among cytoplasmic second messenger molecules. Permeability was assessed by measurement of selective loss/retention of tracers from liposomes containing reconstituted connexin channels. The tracers employed were tritiated cyclic nucleotides and a series of oligomaltosaccharides derivatized with a small uncharged fluorescent moiety. The data define different size cut-off limits for permeability through homomeric connexin-32 channels and through heteromeric connexin-32/connexin- 26 channels. Connexin-26 contributes to a narrowed pore. Both cAMP and cGMP were permeable through the homomeric connexin-32 channels. cAMP was permeable through only a fraction of the heteromeric channels. Surprisingly, cGMP was permeable through a substantially greater fraction of the heteromeric channels than was cAMP. The data suggest that isoform stoichiometry and/or arrangement within a connexin channel determines whether cyclic nucleotides can permeate, and which ones. This is the first evidence for connexin- specific selectivity among biological signaling molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2808-2816
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 30 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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