Functioning of Cx43 hemichannels demonstrated by single channel properties

Jorge E. Contreras, Juan C. Sáez, Feliksas F. Bukauskas, Michael V.L. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that the opening of non-junctional connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannels may play a role in cell physiology, but some workers doubt the reality of hemichannel openings. Here we show data on unitary conductance and voltage gating properties demonstrating that Cx43 hemichannels can open. Membrane depolarization > +60 mV induced single hemichannel currents in HeLa cells expressing Cx43 or Cx43 with enhanced green fluorescent protein attached to the carboxy terminal (Cx43-EGFP). The conductance of single hemichannels was ∼220 pS, about twice that of the cell-cell channels. Cx43 and Cx43-EGFP hemichannels exhibited slow transitions (>5 ms) between closed and fully open states. Cx43 hemichannels also exhibited fast transitions (<1 ms) between the fully open state and a substate of ∼75 pS. Similar gating was described for their respective cell-cell channels. No comparable single channel activity was detected in the parental (nontransfected cells) or HeLa cells expressing Cx43 fused at the amino terminal with EGFP (EGFP-Cx43). The latter chimera was inserted into the surface and formed plaques, but did not express functional hemichannels or cell-cell channels. These data convincingly demonstrate the opening of Cx43 hemichannels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-249
Number of pages5
JournalCell Communication and Adhesion
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - 2003


  • Connexin
  • Connexon
  • Electrical coupling
  • Gap junction
  • HeLa cells
  • Voltage gating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Functioning of Cx43 hemichannels demonstrated by single channel properties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this