Gap junction channels are composed of two apposing hemichannels (connexons) in the contiguous cells and provide a direct pathway for electrical and metabolic signaling between adjacent cells. The family of connexin genes comprises 20 members in the mouse and 21 genes in the human genome. Connexins are expressed in all tissues except differentiated skeletal muscle, erythrocytes, and mature sperm cells. Various tissues express more than one type of connexins; therefore, homotypic, heterotypic, and heteromeric gap junction channels may form between cells. In this article, we briefly review basic gating and permeability properties of homotypic and heterotypic gap junction channels as well as recent achievements in the research of their regulation by transjunctional voltage, intracellular calcium, pH, and phosphorylation.
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