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Oxytocin is a 9-residue secreted peptide. As a hormone, can it travel through gap junctions, assuming that it is stored in pre-synaptic neuronal vesicles?

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Synaptic vesicles are on the order of tens of nanometers (for example Zhang et al give a mean diameter around 40 nm).

Gap junctions are much smaller, on the order of 1-2 nm. Maeda et al measure one at 1.4 nm.

Peptides the size of oxytocin present in the cytosol could theoretically travel through gap junctions. Vesicle-packaged peptides or molecules of any size cannot.


Maeda, S., Nakagawa, S., Suga, M., Yamashita, E., Oshima, A., Fujiyoshi, Y., & Tsukihara, T. (2009). Structure of the connexin 26 gap junction channel at 3.5 Å resolution. Nature, 458(7238), 597-602.

Zhang, B., Koh, Y. H., Beckstead, R. B., Budnik, V., Ganetzky, B., & Bellen, H. J. (1998). Synaptic vesicle size and number are regulated by a clathrin adaptor protein required for endocytosis. neuron, 21(6), 1465-1475.

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