Heterotypic gap junctions formed by pairing Xenopus oocytes expressing hemichannels formed of Cx32 with those expressing hemichannels formed of Cx26 displayed novel transjunctional voltage (Vj) dependence not predicted by the behavior of these connexins in homotypic configurations. Rectification of initial and steady-state currents was observed. Relative positivity and negativity on the Cx26 side of the junction resulted in increased and decreased initial conductance (gj0), respectively. Only relative positivity on the Cx26 decreased steady-state conductance (gj infinity). This behavior suggested that interactions between hemichannels influences gap junction gating. The role of the first extracellular loop (E1) in these interactions was examined by pairing Cx32 and Cx26 with a chimeric connexin in which Cx32 E1 was replaced with Cx26 E1 (Cx32*26E1). Both junctions rectified with gj0/Vj relations that were less steep than that observed for Cx32/Cx26. Decreases in gj infinity occurred for either polarity Vj in the Cx32/Cx32*26E1 junction. Mutation of two amino acids in Cx26 E1 increased the steepness of both the gj0/Vj and gj infinity/Vj relations. These data demonstrate that fast rectification can arise from mismatched E1 domains and that E1 may contribute to the voltage sensing mechanisms underlying both fast and slow Vj-dependent processes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas