Research Articles

Selective disruption of gap junctional communication interferes with a patterning process in hydra

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Science  03 Jul 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4810, pp. 49-55
DOI: 10.1126/science.3037697


The cells that make up the body column of hydra are extensively joined by gap junctions, capable of mediating the rapid exchange of small hydrophilic molecules between the cytoplasms of neighboring cells. Both the rate of transfer of small molecules through the gap junctions and the rate of return of gap junction coupling after grafting experiments are sufficiently rapid to mediate events in the patterning of hydra tissue. Antibodies to the major rat liver gap junction protein (27,000 daltons) recognize a gap junction antigen in hydra and are effective in eliminating junctional communication between hydra cells. The antibodies perturb the head inhibition gradient in grafting operations, suggesting that cell-cell communication via gap junctions is important in this defined tissue patterning process.

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