Connexin43 and connexin45 form gap junctions with different molecular permeabilities in osteoblastic cells

Thomas H. Steinberg, Roberto Civitelli, Steven T. Geist, Audra J. Robertson, Elizabeth Hick, Richard D. Veenstra, Hong Zahn Wang, Pamela M. Warlow, Eileen M. Westphale, James G. Laing, Eric C. Beyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


We examined the expression and function of gap junctions in two rat osteoblastic cell lines, ROS 17/2.8 and UMR 106-01. The pattern of expression of gap junction proteins in these two cell lines was distinct: ROS cells expressed only connexin43 on their cell surface, while UMR expressed predominantly connexin45. Immunoprecipitation and RNA blot analysis confirmed the relative quantitation of these connexins. Microinjected ROS cells passed Lucifer yellow to many neighboring cells, but UMR cells were poorly coupled by this criterion. Nevertheless, both UMR and ROS cells were electrically coupled, as characterized by the double whole cell patch-clamp technique. These studies suggested that Cx43 in ROS cells mediated cell-cell coupling for both small ions and larger molecules, but Cx45 in UMR cells allowed passage only of small ions. To demonstrate that the expression of different connexins alone accounted for the lack of dye coupling in UMR cells, we assessed dye coupling in UMR cells transfected with either Cx43 or Cx45. The UMR/Cx43 transfectants were highly dye coupled compared with the untransfected UMR cells, but the UMR/Cx45 transfectants demonstrated no increase in dye transfer. These data demonstrate that different gap junction proteins create channels with different molecular permeabilities; they suggest that different connexins permit different types of signalling between cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-750
Number of pages7
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 1994


  • Cell-cell communication
  • Connexin
  • Gap junction
  • Osteoblast


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