Electrical synapses: a dynamic signaling system that shapes the activity of neuronal networks

Sheriar G. Hormuzdi, Mikhail A. Filippov, Georgia Mitropoulou, Hannah Monyer, Roberto Bruzzone

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    228 Citations (Scopus)


    Gap junctions consist of intercellular channels dedicated to providing a direct pathway for ionic and biochemical communication between contacting cells. After an initial burst of publications describing electrical coupling in the brain, gap junctions progressively became less fashionable among neurobiologists, as the consensus was that this form of synaptic transmission would play a minimal role in shaping neuronal activity in higher vertebrates. Several new findings over the last decade (e.g. the implication of connexins in genetic diseases of the nervous system, in processing sensory information and in synchronizing the activity of neuronal networks) have brought gap junctions back into the spotlight. The appearance of gap junctional coupling in the nervous system is developmentally regulated, restricted to distinct cell types and persists after the establishment of chemical synapses, thus suggesting that this form of cell-cell signaling may be functionally interrelated with, rather than alternative to chemical transmission. This review focuses on gap junctions between neurons and summarizes the available data, derived from molecular, biological, electrophysiological, and genetic approaches, that are contributing to a new appreciation of their role in brain function.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-137
    Number of pages25
    JournalBBA - Biomembranes
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2004


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