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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Mar;6(3):191-200.

Expression and functions of neuronal gap junctions.

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Institut für Genetik, Abteilung Molekulargenetik, Universität Bonn, Römerstrasse 164, 53117 Bonn, Germany.


Gap junctions are channel-forming structures in contacting plasma membranes that allow direct metabolic and electrical communication between almost all cell types in the mammalian brain. At least 20 connexin genes and 3 pannexin genes probably code for gap junction proteins in mice and humans. Gap junctions between murine neurons (also known as electrical synapses) can be composed of connexin 36, connexin 45 or connexin 57 proteins, depending on the type of neuron. Furthermore, pannexin 1 and 2 are likely to form electrical synapses. Here, we discuss the roles of connexin and pannexin genes in the formation of neuronal gap junctions, and evaluate recent functional analyses of electrical synapses that became possible through the characterization of mouse mutants that show targeted defects in connexin genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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