Activity-dependent plasticity of electrical synapses: increasing evidence for its presence and functional roles in the mammalian brain

BMC Cell Biol. 2016 May 24;17 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):14. doi: 10.1186/s12860-016-0090-z.


Gap junctions mediate electrical synaptic transmission between neurons. While the actions of neurotransmitter modulators on the conductance of gap junctions have been extensively documented, increasing evidence indicates they can also be influenced by the ongoing activity of neural networks, in most cases via local interactions with nearby glutamatergic synapses. We review here early evidence for the existence of activity-dependent regulatory mechanisms as well recent examples reported in mammalian brain. The ubiquitous distribution of both neuronal connexins and the molecules involved suggest this phenomenon is widespread and represents a property of electrical transmission in general.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electrical Synapses / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology