Gag junction channels reconstituted in liposomes provide a pathway for the transfer of second messengers. Gap junction channels were formed in the artificial unilamellar liposomes using immunoaffinity-purified connexin 43 gap junction protein from rat brain. Sucrose-permeable and -impermeable liposomes were separated on the basis of sucrose permeability in the iso-osmolar sucrose density gradient. The liposomes permeable to sucrose were also permeable to a communicating dye molecule, Lucifer yellow. In the present study, we examined the transfer of second messengers through the connexin 43 channels reconstituted in liposomes and first report the direct evidence that the gap junction channels are permeable to second messengers including adenosine 3',5'-cyclic phosphate and inositol 1,4.5-trisphosphate. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.