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Special Issue "Gap Junctions and Connexins in Physiology, Pharmacology and Disease"
A special issue of Biology (ISSN 2079-7737). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry and Molecular Biology".
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2022) | Viewed by 23631
Special Issue Editor
Interests: connexin 36; electrical synapses; tight junctions; gap junctions; connexins; PDZ Domains; rodentia; oligodendroglia
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Special Issue Information
A characteristic feature of many cell types that make up the human body, is their extensive connection by gap junctions, which consist of a family of 21 highly heterogeneously expressed connexin (genes) proteins that form membrane channels allowing direct cell-to-cell exchange of water, amino acids, nucleotides, ATP, calcium, cAMP, IP3, and other small molecules with molecular weight less than 1,000 dalton. Gap junctions play pivotal roles for cell differentiation, proliferation, homeostasis, and whole organ function. Connexins can form gap junction channels as well as hemichannels, recently, emerging evidence also demonstrated that connexins can have gap junction channel-independent function.
Gap junction family, which includes connexins, pannexins and innexins in invertebrates. Due to the highly conserved sequence in mouse orthologs of their corresponding human connexins, gene knockout mice have been used to define the functions of connexin genes, and importantly, many connexins global knockout mice are showing a lethal phenotype, indicating the functional importance of gap junctions in maintaining the homeostasis of cells and tissues. Mutations in connexin genes have been associated with a variety of human disease conditions. For example, Cx26 gene mutations have been identified as the most prevalent cause of congenital hearing loss in children. Therefore, some clinical tests in connexin gene mutations have been widely used in medical diagnosis.
To date, the revolutionary Cryo-EM has become a powerful tool in studying membrane proteins, and the 3-D structures of Cx26, Cx46 and Cx50 proteins have been resolved using Cryo-EM. From a structural point of view, the reconstruction of all the connexin transmembrane proteins will provide new clue for elucidation of the functions or binding sites of specific gap junction channel as well as hemichanel blockers.
In gap junction field, by utilizing the advanced techniques of molecular biology and biochemistry, new tools, including, but not limited to CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, base editing, prime editing, Cre/loxP conditional knockout mice, optogenetics, siRNA, shRNA, nanoparticle mediated gene delivery system, modified safe and high efficacy viral vectors for gene therapy, peptide blockage and Cryo-EM, may open up new avenues for the development of therapeutics based on blockage or activation of gap junctions. In this special issue, the roles of gap junctions in normal physiology, pharmacology and in the pathogenesis of several diseases will be presented.
Dr. Xinbo Li
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- gap junctions
- cell communication
- cell–cell coupling