Connexins: mechanisms regulating protein levels and intercellular communication

FEBS Lett. 2014 Apr 17;588(8):1212-20. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2014.01.013. Epub 2014 Jan 20.


Intercellular communication can occur through gap junction channels, which are comprised of connexin proteins. Therefore, levels of connexins can directly correlate with gap junctional intercellular communication. Because gap junctions have a critical role in maintaining cellular homeostasis, the regulation of connexin protein levels is important. In the connexin life cycle, connexin protein levels can be modified through differential gene transcription or altered through trafficking and degradation mechanisms. More recently, significant attention has been directed to the pathways that cells utilize to increase or decrease connexin levels and thus indirectly, gap junctional communication. Here, we review the studies revealing the mechanisms that affect connexin protein levels and gap junctional intercellular communication.

Keywords: Autophagy; Connexin; Degradation; Lysosome; Proteasome; Trafficking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Endocytosis
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum-Associated Degradation
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis*
  • Secretory Pathway
  • Ubiquitins / metabolism


  • Connexins
  • Ubiquitins