Aberrant gating, but a normal expression pattern, underlies the recessive phenotype of the deafness mutant Connexin26M34T.

I. M. Skerrett, W. L. Di, E. M. Kasperek, D. P. Kelsell, B. J. Nicholson

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Abstract

Mutations in the gene GJB2, encoding the gap junction protein Connexin26 (Cx26), are the most prevalent cause of inherited hearing loss, and Cx26M34T was one of the first mutations linked to deafness (Kelsell et al., 1997; Nature 387, 80-83). We report the first characterization of the gating properties of M34T, which had previously been reported to be nonfunctional. Although homotypic mutant channels did not produce detectable currents, heterotypic pairings with wtCx26 confirmed that M34T formed intercellular channels, although the gating properties were altered. Cx26M34T displayed an inverted response to transjunctional voltage (Vj), mediating currents that activate in a time- and Vj-dependent manner. These characteristics suggest that the channel population is only partially open at rest, consistent with previous reports that dye transfer in M34T-expressing cells is reduced or abolished (e.g., Thonnissen et al., Human Genet. 111, 190-197). To investigate the controversial recessive/dominant behavior of this mutant, we coexpressed M34T with wtCx26 RNA at equimolar levels, mimicking the situation in heterozygotic individuals. Under these conditions, M34T did not significantly reduce Cx26/Cx26 coupling, or alter the electrophysiological properties of the wt channels, consistent with the recessive nature of the allele. Overexpression of the mutant did have some inhibitory effects on conductance, possibly explaining some of the previous reports in exogenous expression systems and some patients. Consistent with its electrophysiological behavior, we also show that M34T localizes to cell junctions in both transfected HeLa cells and patient-derived tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-862
Number of pages3
JournalThe FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Volume18
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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