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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Mar 23;1662(1-2):96-101.

Selective permeability of gap junction channels.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Health Science Complex, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8661, USA.


Gap junctions mediate the transfer of small cytoplasmic molecules between adjacent cells. A family of gap junction proteins exist that form channels with unique properties, and differ in their ability to mediate the transfer of specific molecules. Mutations in a number of individual gap junction proteins, called connexins, cause specific human diseases. Therefore, it is important to understand how gap junctions selectively move molecules between cells. Rules that dictate the ability of a molecule to travel through gap junction channels are complex. In addition to molecular weight and size, the ability of a solute to transverse these channels depends on its net charge, shape, and interactions with specific connexins that constitute gap junctions in particular cells. This review presents some data and interpretations pertaining to mechanisms that govern the differential transfer of signals through gap junction channels.

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