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Novartis Found Symp. 1999;219:157-70; discussion 170-4.

Gap junction-mediated communication in the developing and adult cerebral cortex.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Recent cell biological and electrophysiological studies have shown that gap junctional coupling and the proteins that mediate this form of communication are present in the developing cerebral cortex from early in corticogenesis to the later stage of neuronal circuit formation. We have used electron microscopy to visualize gap junctions in the developing rat cerebral cortex, and studied the expression patterns and cellular localizations of connexin26 (Cx26; beta 2), Cx32 (beta 1) and Cx43 (alpha 1), which take part in their formation. We found that these connexins are expressed differentially during development, and their patterns of expression are correlated with important developmental events such as cell proliferation, migration and formation of cortical neuronal circuits. We also observed that gap junctions and their constituent connexins were abundant in the adult cerebral cortex. Junctions were predominantly between glial cells or between neurons and glia. The frequency and distribution of gap junctions varied in different regions of the adult cortex, possibly reflecting differences in the cellular and functional organization of these cortical areas.

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