J. Membrane Biol. 179, 1–12 (2001) The Journal of DOI: 10.1007/s002320010024 Membrane Biology © Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 2001 Topical Review L. Reuss Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555-0641, USA Received: 19 May 2000/Revised: 7 August 2000 Introduction cytosol of adjacent cells. Each cell contributes a con- nexon, which is a hexamer of transmembrane proteins called connexins (a family consisting of at least 14 mem- Transporting epithelial cells are endowed with polarity, bers. In the connexon the six connexin molecules are that is, different regions of the cell differ structurally and parallel to each other, perpendicular to the plasma mem- functionally. The most important aspect of epithelial cell brane, leaving a space in the middle. A gap junction polarity is that the transport proteins expressed in the (cell-to-cell channel) is formed by two connexons be- apical and basolateral membrane are different. This longing to adjacent cells, joined in series. Gap junctions property is essential for epithelia to perform transepithe- allow the permeation of molecules up to about 1 kDa. lial net transport (vectorial transport) when both sides are Their functional regulation is isoform-dependent and bathed in solutions of the same composition. Epithelial
The Journal of Membrane Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2001
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