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Cell Commun Adhes. 2001;8(4-6):311-4.

Innexins in C. elegans.

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Dept. Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, USA.


Innexins are functionally analogous to the vertebrate connexins, and the innexin family of gap junction proteins has been identified in many invertebrates, including Drosophila and C. elegans. The genome sequencing project has identified 25 innexins in C. elegans. We are particularly interested in the roles that gap junctions may play in embryonic development and in wiring of the nervous system. To identify the particular C. elegans innexins that are involved in these processes, we are examining their expression patterns using specific antibodies and translational GFP fusions. In addition we are investigating mutant, RNAi and overexpression phenotypes for many of these genes. To date, we have generated specific antibodies to the non-conserved carboxyl termini of 5 innexins. We have constructed GFP translational fusions for 17 innexins and observed expression patterns for 13 of these genes. In total we have characterized expression patterns representing 14 innexins. Mutations have been identified in 5 of these genes, and at least 3 others have RNAi mutant phenotypes. Generalities emerging from our studies include: 1) most tissues and many individual cells express more than one innexin, 2) some innexins are expressed widely, while others are expressed in only a few cells, and 3) there is a potential for functional pairing of innexins.

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