Multiple connexin proteins in single intercellular channels: connexin compatibility and functional consequences

J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1996 Aug;28(4):339-50. doi: 10.1007/BF02110110.


In vertebrates, the protein subunits of intercellular channels found in gap junctions are encoded by a family of genes called connexins. These channels span two plasma membranes and result from the association of two half channels, or connexons, which are hexameric assemblies of connexins. Physiological analysis of channel formation and gating has revealed unique patterns of connexin-connexin interaction, and uncovered novel functional characteristics of channels containing more than one type of connexin protein. Structure-function studies have further demonstrated that unique domains within connexins participate in the regulation of different functional properties of intercellular channels. Thus, gap junctional channels can contain more than one connexin, and this structural heterogeneity has functional consequences in vitro. Moreover, emerging evidence for the existence of intercellular channels containing multiple connexins in native tissues suggests that the functional diversity generated by connexin-connexin interaction could contribute to complex communication patterns that have been observed in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Connexins / physiology*
  • Connexins / ultrastructure
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Gap Junctions / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Connexins