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Virginijus Valiunas, Peter R. Brink, Thomas W. White; Lens Connexin Channels Have Differential Permeability to the Second Messenger cAMP. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(12):3821-3829. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.19-27302.
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Gap junction channels exhibit connexin specific biophysical properties, including the selective intercellular passage of larger solutes, such as second messengers. Here, we have examined the cyclic nucleotide permeability of the lens connexins, which could influence events like epithelial cell division and differentiation.
We compared the cAMP permeability through channels composed of Cx43, Cx46, or Cx50 using simultaneous measurements of junctional conductance and intercellular transfer. For cAMP detection, the recipient cells were transfected with a cAMP sensor gene, the cyclic nucleotide-modulated channel from sea urchin sperm (SpIH). cAMP was introduced via patch pipette into the cell of the pair that did not express SpIH. SpIH-derived currents were recorded from the other cell of a pair that expressed SpIH. cAMP permeability was also directly visualized in transfected cells using a chemically modified fluorescent form of the molecule.
cAMP transfer was observed for homotypic Cx43 channels over a wide range of junctional conductance. Homotypic Cx46 channels also transferred cAMP, but permeability was reduced compared with Cx43. In contrast, homotypic Cx50 channels exhibited extremely low permeability to cAMP, when compared with either Cx43, or Cx46.
These data show that channels made from Cx43 and Cx46 result in the intercellular delivery of cAMP in sufficient quantity to activate cyclic nucleotide-modulated channels. The data also suggest that the greatly reduced cAMP permeability of Cx50 channels could play a role in the regulation of cell division in the lens.
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