Structural determinants and proliferative consequences of connexin 37 hemichannel function in insulinoma cells

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14 Scopus citations


Connexin (Cx) 37 suppresses vascular and cancer cell proliferation. The C terminus and a channel able to function are necessary, and neither by itself is sufficient, for Cx37 to mediate growth suppression. Cx37 supports transmembrane and intercellular signaling by forming functional hemichannels (HCs) and gap junction channels (GJCs), respectively. Here we determined whether Cx37 with HC, but not GJC, functionality would suppress proliferation of rat insulinoma (Rin) cells comparably to wild-type Cx37 (Cx37-WT). We mutated extracellular loop residues hypothesized to compromise HC docking but not HC function (six cysteines mutated to alanine, C54A, C61A, C65A, C187A, C192A, C198A (designated as C6A); N55I; and Q58L). All three mutants trafficked to the plasma membrane and formed protein plaques comparably to Cx37-WT. None of the mutants formed functional GJCs, and Cx37-C6A did not form functional HCs. Cx37-N55I and -Q58L formed HCs with behavior and permeation properties similar to Cx37-WT (especially Q58L), but none of the mutants suppressed Rin cell proliferation. The data indicate that determinants of Cx37 HC function differ from other Cxs and that HC functions with associated HC-supported protein-protein interactions are not sufficient for Cx37 to suppress Rin cell proliferation. Together with previously published data, these results suggest that Cx37 suppresses Rin cell proliferation only when in a specific conformation achieved by interaction of the C terminus with a Cx37 poreforming domain able to open as a GJC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30379-30386
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 31 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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