Gap junction proteins, also called connexins, are a group of more than 20 highly conserved proteins with developmental and tissue-specific expression patterns, which mediate gap junction intercellular communication. One gap junction is composed of a cluster of closely packed pairs of transmembrane channels, the connexons, through which materials of low MW (molecular weight) diffuse from one cell to a neighboring cell. In vertebrate animals, gap junctions are formed by two connexons (or hemichannels), one provided by each of two cells. Each connexon consists of six oligomerized connexin proteins (Cx for short), which can be either homomeric or heteromeric (two or more different connexins in one connexon) and form homotypic or heterotypic (different connexons) gap junction channels. Gap junction can directly connect the cytoplasm of two cells, which allows various ions, molecules, electrical impulses to directly pass through a regulated gate between cells.
Intercellular communication of gap junctions plays a vital role in normal development and physiology with a loss of function implicated in various human diseases such as peripheral nerve disorders and nonsyndromic deafness. Here, we show part of the gap junction protein family members, for which we can give you more detailed description.
|Human Gap Junction Protein Family Members|
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