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Cell Commun Adhes. 2008 May;15(1):207-18. doi: 10.1080/15419060802014198.

Currently used methods for identification and characterization of hemichannels.

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Departamento de Ciencias Fisiológicas, Núcleo de Immunología e inmuroterapía, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Connexins and pannexins are vertebrate transmembrane proteins that form hexameric conduits termed hemichannels. Functional hemichannels allow the diffusional transport of ions and small molecules across the plasma membrane and serve as paracrine and autocrine communication pathways. During the last decade, interest in the hemichannel field increased substantially. Today, there is evidence for the existence of connexin hemichannels in vertebrate cells and bulk of information supports their function in diverse physiological and pathological responses. Controversy regarding the molecular identity of the hemichannel type mediating many responses arose recently with the identification of pannexin-based hemichannels. Here, the authors describe the most frequently used methods for studying hemichannels in living mammalian cells and focus on those with which they have more experience. Although the available in vitro evidence is substantial, further studies and possibly new experimental approaches are required to understand the role and properties of connexin and pannexin hemichannels in vivo.

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