Human HeLa cells transfected with mouse connexin Cx45 were used to examine the conductive and kinetic properties of Cx45 hemichannels. The experiments were carried out on single cells using a voltage-clamp method. Lowering the [Ca2+]o revealed an extra current. Its sensitivity to extracellular Ca2+ and gap junction channel blockers (18α-glycyrrhetinic acid, palmitoleic acid, heptanol), and its absence in non-transfected HeLa cells suggested that it is carried by Cx45 hemichannels. The conductive and kinetic properties of this current, I hc, were determined adopting a biphasic pulse protocol. I hc activated at positive V m and deactivated partially at negative V m. The analysis of the instantaneous I hc yielded a linear function g hc,inst = f(V m) with a hint of a negative slope (g hc,inst: instantaneous conductance). The analysis of the steady-state I hc revealed a sigmoidal function g hc,ss = f(V m) best described with the Boltzmann equation: V m,0 = −1.08 mV, g hc,min = 0.08 (g hc,ss: steady-state conductance; V m, 0:V m at which g hc,ss is half-maximally activated; g hc,min: minimal conductance; major charge carriers: K+ and Cl−). The g hc was minimal at negative V m and maximal at positive V m. This suggests that Cx45 connexons integrated in gap junction channels are gating with negative voltage. I hc deactivated exponentially with time, giving rise to single time constants, τd. The function τd = f(V m) was exponential and increased with positive V m (τd = 7.6 s at V m = 0 mV). The activation of I hc followed the sum of two exponentials giving rise to the time constants, τa1 and τa2. The function τa1 = f(V m) and τa2 = f(V m) were bell-shaped and yielded a maximum of ≅ 0.6 s at V m ≅ −20 mV and ≅ 4.9 s at V m ≅ 15 mV, respectively. Neither τa1 = f(V m) nor τa2 = f(V m) coincided with τd = f(V m). These findings conflict with the notion that activation and deactivation follow a simple reversible reaction scheme governed by first-order voltage-dependent processes.
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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