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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Jun 10;1711(2):126-41. Epub 2004 Dec 8.

Functional consequences of heterogeneous gap junction channel formation and its influence in health and disease.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6.


The capacity of multiple connexins to hetero-oligomerize into functional heterogeneous gap junction channels has been demonstrated in vivo, in vitro, and in nonmammalian expression systems. These heterogeneous channels display gating activity, channel conductances, selectivity and regulatory behaviors that are sometimes not predicted by the behaviors of the corresponding homogeneous channels. Such observations suggest that heteromerization of gap junction proteins offers an efficient cellular strategy for finely regulating cell-to-cell communication. The available evidence strongly indicates that heterogeneous gap junction assembly is important to normal growth and differentiation, and may influence the appearance of several disease states. Definitive evidence that heterogeneous gap junction channels differentially regulate electrical conduction in excitable cells is absent. This review examines the prevalence, regulation, and implications of gap junction channel hetero-oligomerization.

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