Connexin proteins oligomerize in hexameric structures called connexin hemichannels, which then dock to form gap junctions. Gap junctions direct cell-cell communication by allowing the exchange of small molecules and ions between neighboring cells. In this way, hepatic gap junctions support liver homeostasis. Besides serving as building blocks for gap junctions, connexin hemichannels provide a pathway between the intracellular and the extracellular environment. The activation of connexin hemichannels is associated with acute and chronic liver pathologies. This article discusses the role of gap junctions and connexin hemichannels in the liver.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was financially supported by the European Research Council (Proof-of-Concept grant 861913), the European Future and Emerging Technologies program (grant 858014), the Research Foundation Flanders-Belgium (grants G012318N, G020018N, and G0F7219N), the University Hospital of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel-Belgium (Scientific Fund Willy Gepts), the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo-Brazil (FAPESP-FWO grant 18/10953-9). Figures are created with BioRender.
© American Physiological Society.
Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.