Gap junctions from rat liver and fiber junctions from bovine lens have similar septilaminar profiles when examined by thin-section electron microscopy and differ only slightly with respect to the packing of intramembrane particles in freeze-fracture images. These similarities have often led to lens fiber junctions being referred to as gap junctions. Junctions from both sources were isolated as enriched subcellular fractions and their major polypeptide components compared biochemically and immunochemically. The major liver gap junction polypeptide has an apparent molecular weight of 27,000, while a 25,000-dalton polypeptide is the major component of lens fiber junctions. The two polypeptides are not homologous when compared by partial peptide mapping in SDS. In addition, there is not detectable antigenic similarity between the two polypeptides by immunochemical criteria using antibodies to the 25,000-dalton lens fiber junction polypeptide. Thus, in spite of the ultrastructural similarities, the gap junction and the lens fiber junction are comprised of distinctly different polypeptides, suggesting that the lens fiber junction contains a unique gene product and potentially different physiological properties.

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