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Cellular communication via gap junctions

John S. Bertram
From: Science & Medicine: Volume 7 Number 2: Page 18 (April 2000)

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Abstract: Intercellular connections join animal cells in almost every phylum, and plant cells are similarly connected. By allowing the transfer of ions, metabolites, and signal molecules, gap junctions provide a mechanism to coordinate activities of groups of cells. Because so many different small molecules pass through the pores of gap junctions, the specific role of this transfer process is difficult to define. Also, there are numerous genes for the protein subunits of the gap junction structure, and the components contributed to the junction by the by each cell can be either the same or different. Targeted disruption of the genes and studies of human mutations have been the main sources of knowledge about the function of gap junctions.

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