Int J Biochem Mol Biol 2011;2(2):119-128

Review Article
Regulation of cellular function by connexin hemichannels

Sirisha Burra, Jean X. Jiang

Department of Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA

Received February 17, 2011; accepted February 25, 2011; Epub February 28, 2011; published April 30, 2011

Abstract: Gap junctions and hemichannels are formed by a family of proteins called connexins. Till date up to twenty one different connexins
have been characterized and their expression was observed to be spatio-temporally regulated. Gap junctions and hemichannels are involved
in transfer of a variety of less than 1 kDa small molecules such as, ions, small metabolites, cAMP, ATP, IP3, prostaglandins, etc.
Post-translational modifications of connexins and their interaction with other proteins are reported to be the key regulators of channel functions.
Studies during the past decade or so, suggest the physiological important of connexin hemichannels mediating the communication between
the cell and its environment. Molecules conveyed through the hemichannels elicit a variety of signaling pathways and influence cellular
functions such as, cell cycle, tissue homeostasis, migration, mechanotransduction, oxidative stress. The purpose of the current review is to
compile the reported studies so far and provide a general overview in our understanding how the molecular transfer through hemichannels
regulates cellular signaling and functions. (IJBMB1012001).

Keywords: Connexin, gap junction, hemichannel, cell cycle, cellular function and signaling, mechanotransduction

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Address all correspondence to:
Jean X. Jiang, PhD
Department of Biochemistry
University of Texas Health Science Center
7703 Floyd Curl Drive
San Antonio, TX 78229-3900
Tel: 210-567-3796
Fax: 210-567-6595