Quinine blocks specific gap junction channel subtypes

M. Srinivas, M. G. Hopperstad, D. C. Spray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


We demonstrate that the antimalarial drug quinine specifically reduces currents through gap junctions formed by some connexins (Cx) in transfected mammalian cells, but does not affect other gap junction types. Quinine blocked Cx36 and Cx50 junctional currents in a reversible and concentration-dependent manner with half maximal blocking concentrations of 32 and 73 uΜM, respectively; Hill coefficients for block by quinine were about 2 for both connexins. In contrast, quinine did not substantially block gap junction channels formed by Cx26, Cx32, Cx40, and Cx43, and only moderately affected Cx45 junctions. To determine the location of the binding site of quinine (pKa = 8.7), we investigated the effect of quinine at various external and internal pH values and the effect of a permanently charged quaternary derivative of quinine. Our results indicate that the binding site for quinine is intracellular, possibly within the pore. Single-channel studies indicated that exposure to quinine induced slow transitions between open and fully closed states that decreased open probability of the channel. Quinine thus offers a potentially useful method to block certain types of gap junction channels, including those between neurons that are formed by Cx36. Moreover, quinine derivatives that are excluded from other types of membrane channels may provide molecules with connexin-specific as well as connexin-selective blocking activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10942-10947
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - Sep 11 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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