Opening of connexin 43 hemichannels is increased by lowering intracellular redox potential

Mauricio A. Retamal, Kurt A. Schalper, Kenji F. Shoji, Michael V.L. Bennett, Juan C. Sáez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

119 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nonjunctional membrane in many cells contains connexin gap junction hemichannels (or connexons) that can open to allow permeation of small molecules. Opening of Cx43 hemichannels is infrequent in normal extracellular Ca2+ and enhanced by low Ca2+, positive membrane potentials, and dephosphorylation of critical residues. Here we report that lowering intracellular redox potential increases Cx43 hemichannel open probability under otherwise normal conditions. We studied dye uptake and single-channel activity in HeLa cells transfected with wild-type Cx43, Cx43 with enhanced GFP attached to its C terminus (Cx43-EGFP), and Cx43 with enhanced GFP attached to its N terminus (EGFP-Cx43). Dithiothreitol [(DTT) 10 mM], a membrane permeant-reducing agent, increased the rate of dye uptake by cells expressing Cx43 and Cx43-EGFP, but not by parental cells or cells expressing EGFP-Cx43. Induced dye uptake was blocked by La3+, by a peptide gap junction and hemichannel blocker (gap 26), and by flufenamic acid. DTT increased Cx43-EGFP hemichannel opening at positive voltages. Bath application of reduced glutathione, a membrane impermeant-reducing agent, did not increase dye uptake, but glutathione in the recording pipette increased hemichannel opening at positive voltages, suggesting that it acted intracellulary. DTT caused little change in levels of surface Cx43 or Cx43-EGFP, or in intracellular pH. These findings suggest that lowering intracellular redox potential increases the opening of Cx43 and Cx43-EGFP hemichannels, possibly by action on cytoplasmic cysteine residues in the connexin C terminus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8322-8327
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume104
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 2007

Keywords

  • Connexon
  • Cysteine
  • Dithiothreitol
  • Permeation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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