Cloning and expression of a Xenopus embryonic gap junction protein

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Science  03 Mar 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4895, pp. 1194-1195
DOI: 10.1126/science.2466337


Gap junctions in the early amphibian embryo may play a fundamental role in the regulation of differentiation by mediating the cell-to-cell transfer of chemical signals. A complementary DNA encoding a gap junction present in Xenopus oocytes and early embryos has now been cloned and sequenced. This protein sequence is homologous to the well-characterized gap junction structural proteins rat connexin32 and connexin43. RNA blot analysis of total Xenopus oocyte RNA showed hybridization to a single 1.6-kilobase band. This messenger RNA is abundant in oocytes, decreases to levels below the sensitivity of our assay by stage 15 (18 hours), and is not detectable in RNA from a number of adult organs. To confirm that the oocyte cDNA encodes a gap junction channel, the protein was over expressed in Xenopus oocytes by injection of RNA synthesized in vitro. Pairs of RNA-injected oocytes formed many more time- and voltage-sensitive cell-cell channels than water-injected pairs.

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