Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab


  • Dale W. Laird
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_1317-2


Connexins are proteins which assemble into channels that allow for small molecules to pass directly from one cell to another.


The family of connexin (Cx) proteins is composed of 21 members in humans. All connexins (Cx32 and Cx26) share common features of assembling into connexons also called “hemichannels” consisting of six subunits of the same or different connexins (Fig. 1). Hemichannels from apposing cells dock and the resulting channels cluster into a junctional complex known as a Gap junction or often referred to as a gap junction plaque. Gap junctions allow for the direct intercellular exchange of secondary messengers and other small molecules, a process termed gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) (Fig. 1). Gap junctions have a ubiquitous distribution in human tissues, and these specialized intercellular channels are essential for normal cell function, proper cell differentiation, tissue development, metabolic transport, ion transfer, and...


Cell Growth Control Connexin Expression Connexin Gene Congenital Hearing Loss Detrimental Side Effect 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada