The three connexins expressed in the ocular lens each contain PDZ domain-binding motifs directing a physical association with the scaffolding protein ZO-1, but the significance of the interaction is unknown. We found that Cx50 with PDZ-binding motif mutations did not form gap junction plaques or induce cell-cell communication in HeLa cells, whereas the addition of a seven-amino acid PDZ-binding motif restored normal function to Cx50 lacking its entire C-terminal cytoplasmic domain. C-Terminal deletion had a similar although weaker effect on Cx46 but little if any effect on targeting and function of Cx43. Furthermore, small interfering RNA knockdown of ZO-1 completely inhibited the formation of gap junctions by wild-type Cx50 in HeLa cells. Thus both a PDZ-binding motif and ZO-1 are necessary for Cx50 intercellular channel formation in HeLa cells. Knock-in mice expressing Cx50 with a PDZ-binding motif mutation phenocopied Cx50 knockouts. Furthermore, differentiating lens fibers in the knock-in displayed extensive intracellular Cx50, whereas plaques in mature fibers contained only Cx46. Thus normal Cx50 function in vivo also requires an intact PDZ domain-binding motif. This is the first demonstration of a connexin-specific requirement for a connexin-interacting protein in gap junction assembly.