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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2007 May-Jun;94(1-2):5-14. Epub 2007 Mar 15.

Gap junctional proteins of animals: the innexin/pannexin superfamily.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0116, USA.


There has been some controversy as to whether vertebrate pannexins are related to invertebrate innexins. Using statistical, topological and conserved sequence motif analyses, we establish that these proteins belong to a single superfamily. We also demonstrate the occurrence of large homologues with C-terminal proline-rich domains that may have arisen by gene fusion events. Phylogenetic analyses reveal the orthologous and paralogous relationships of these homologues to each other. We show that different sets of orthologous paralogues underwent sequence divergence at markedly different rates, suggesting differential pressures through evolutionary time promoting or restricting sequence divergence. We further show that the first 2 TMS-containing halves of these homologues underwent sequence divergence more slowly than the second 2 TMS-containing halves and analyze these differences. These bioinformatic analyses should serve as useful guides for future studies of structure, function and evolutionary aspects of this important superfamily.

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