Article

Role of gap junctions in embryonic and somatic stem cells

Department of Biological Chemistry, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.
Stem cell reviews (Impact Factor: 3.21). 09/2008; 4(4):283-92. DOI: 10.1007/s12015-008-9038-9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Stem cells provide an invaluable tool to develop cell replacement therapies for a range of serious disorders caused by cell damage or degeneration. Much research in the field is focused on the identification of signals that either maintain stem cell pluripotency or direct their differentiation. Understanding how stem cells communicate within their microenvironment is essential to achieve their therapeutic potentials. Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) has been described in embryonic stem cells (ES cells) and various somatic stem cells. GJIC has been implicated in regulating different biological events in many stem cells, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. This review summarizes the current understanding of gap junctions in both embryonic and somatic stem cells, as well as their potential role in growth control and cellular differentiation.

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    • "Gap junction (GJ) proteins are plasma membrane channels involved in direct cell-cell communication via physiological signals, regulating embryonic development, neoplasm, and tissue function in diverse contexts (Levin, 2007a; Phelan, 2005). GJ protein-mediated signals are known to regulate behavior of embryonic and adult stem cells (Wong et al., 2008) probably by modulating the exchange of information between undifferentiated cells and their surrounding microenvironment (Elias and Kriegstein, 2008; Oviedo and Levin, 2007b). Such short-range stem cell regulation by GJ proteins is essential for regeneration of complex structures in both vertebrates and invertebrates (Hoptak-Solga et al., 2008; Oviedo and Levin, 2007b). "
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