Roles of connexins and pannexins in digestive homeostasis

Michaël Maes, Bruno Cogliati, Sara Crespo Yanguas, Joost Willebrords, Mathieu Vinken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Connexin proteins are abundantly present in the digestive system. They primarily form gap junctions, which control the intercellular exchange of critical homeostasis regulators. By doing so, gap junctions drive a plethora of gastrointestinal and hepatic functional features, including gastric and gut motility, gastric acid secretion, intestinal innate immune defense, xenobiotic biotransformation, glycogenolysis, bile secretion, ammonia detoxification and plasma protein synthesis. In the last decade, it has become clear that connexin hemichannels, which are the structural precursors of gap junctions, also provide a pathway for cellular communication, namely between the cytosol and the extracellular environment. Although merely pathological functions have been described, some physiological roles have been attributed to connexin hemichannels, in particular in the modulation of colonic motility. This equally holds true for cellular channels composed of pannexins, connexin-like proteins recently identified in the intestine and the liver, which have become acknowledged key players in inflammatory processes and that have been proposed to control colonic motility, secretion and blood flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2809-2821
Number of pages13
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number15
Early online date18 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • stomach
  • intestine
  • pannexin
  • connexin
  • physiology


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