Stem Cell Reviews

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 283–292 | Cite as

Role of Gap Junctions in Embryonic and Somatic Stem Cells

  • Raymond C. B. Wong
  • Martin F. Pera
  • Alice Pébay


Stem cells provide an invaluable tool to develop cell replacement therapies for a range of serious disorders caused by cell damage or degeneration. Much research in the field is focused on the identification of signals that either maintain stem cell pluripotency or direct their differentiation. Understanding how stem cells communicate within their microenvironment is essential to achieve their therapeutic potentials. Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) has been described in embryonic stem cells (ES cells) and various somatic stem cells. GJIC has been implicated in regulating different biological events in many stem cells, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. This review summarizes the current understanding of gap junctions in both embryonic and somatic stem cells, as well as their potential role in growth control and cellular differentiation.


Somatic stem cells Neural stem cells Hematopoietic stem cells Mesenchymal stem cells Embryonic stem cells Gap junctions Gap junctional intercellular communication 



α-glycyrrhetinic acid


Bone morphogenetic protein

ES cells

Embryonic stem cells


Hematopoietic stem cells


Mesenchymal stem cells


Gap junctional intercellular communication


Human embryonic stem cells


Mouse embryonic stem cells


Platelet-derived growth factor





This work was supported by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the University of Melbourne and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC 454723).


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond C. B. Wong
    • 1
  • Martin F. Pera
    • 2
  • Alice Pébay
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological ChemistryUniversity of California IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Centre for Neuroscience and Department of PharmacologyThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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