Author(s): Bruzzone S, Guida L, Zocchi E, Franco L, De Flora A
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Abstract A previously unrecognized passive transport for pyridine dinucleotides has been described recently in the plasmamembrane of several mammalian cells. Despite elucidation of some functional and kinetic properties of this transport system, it is still undefined at the molecular level. Therefore, we have addressed the molecular characterization of the NAD+ transporter and identified it as connexin 43 (Cx43). This is a structural component of hexameric hemichannels that, when juxtaposed on adjacent cells, builds up intercellular gap junctions and mediates exchange of molecules between cells. However, the role of connexin hemichannels as potential pores in individual, noncoupled cells remains elusive. Bidirectional NAD+ transport in isolated Cx43-expressing mur ine 3T3 fibroblasts was affected by known modulators of connexin-mediated intercellular coupling and was completely inhibited by treatment of the cells with a Cx43-antisense oligonucleotide. NAD+ transport in proteoliposomes reconstituted with 3T3 membrane proteins was inhibited in the presence of a monoclonal anti-Cx43 antibody. Finally, Cx43 immunopurified to homogeneity was reconstituted in unilamellar proteoliposomes, which displayed full NAD+-transporting activity. This finding is the first evidence that connexin hemichannels can mediate transmembrane fluxes of a nucleotide in whole cells: The pleiotropy of NAD+-dependent cellular events, including redox reactions, signaling, and DNA repair, implicates Cx43 hemichannels in intercellular NAD+ trafficking, which suggests new paracrine functions of NAD.
This article was published in FASEB J
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology