Gap Junctions in Development

  • Eva B. Griepp
  • Jean-Paul Revel


Ionic coupling, a widespread mechanism for intercellular communication, is believed to be of major importance in the control of growth and of development (see reviews by Bennett, 1973; and Loewenstein, 1968, 1974a).* The passage of inorganic ions between coupled cells is relatively unrestricted, and in many cases even large molecules such as dyes (Schmidtman, 1925, quoted by Socolar, 1973; Potter et al. 1966) and compounds of metabolic significance can be exchanged (Crick, 1970; Gilula et al. 1972; Pitts, 1971; Sheridan, 1974a,b). Intercellular coupling probably occurs via a specialized region of the membrane known as a gap junction. Nexus, a term originally proposed by Dewey and Barr (1962) in their analysis of cell coupling in smooth muscle, is used synonymously by a number of authors primarily interested in the morphology of this junction (see McNutt and Weinstein, 1973), whereas other terms such as electrotonic junction and electrical synapse are favored by electrophysiologists. Simionescu et al. (1975) have recently suggested the expression macula communicans to make the name of this cell junction consonant with the Latin nomenclature for other junctions (Farquhar and Palade, 1963). Tight junction, an appellation still used by a few authors, is clearly an anachronism from a time when it was difficult to distinguish gap junctions from occluding junctions.


Tight Junction Intercellular Communication Intercellular Junction Electrical Coupling Cell Coupling 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva B. Griepp
    • 1
  • Jean-Paul Revel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Division of BiologyCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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