Connexins, Gap Junctions and Cell-Cell Signalling in the Nervous System

Eur J Neurosci. 1997 Jan;9(1):1-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1997.tb01346.x.


Connexins form a multigene family of polytopic membrane proteins that, in vertebrates, are the constitutive subunits of intercellular channels and provide the structural basis for electrical coupling. The appearance of electrical coupling in the nervous system is developmentally regulated and restricted to distinct cell types. Electrical coupling between neurons persists after the establishment of chemical transmission, thus suggesting that this form of cell-cell signalling may be functionally interrelated with, rather than alternative to chemical transmission. Furthermore, evidence for the possible role of gap junctions in human neurological diseases is also mounting, following the discovery that the X-linked form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome, a demyelinating neuropathy of the peripheral nervous system, is associated with mutations in a connexin gene. These findings raise new questions on the significance of connexin diversity and on their functional role in the nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Connexins / physiology*
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Connexins