Pannexin: To gap or not to gap, is that a question?



Vertebrates express two families of gap junction proteins: the well characterized connexins and the recently discovered pannexins. The latter are related to invertebrate innexins. Here we present the hypothesis that pannexins, rather than providing a redundant system to gap junctions formed by connexins, exert a physiological role as nonjunctional membrane channels. Specifically, we propose that pannexins can serve as ATP release channels. This function presumptively is also performed by innexins in invertebrates, in addition to their traditional gap junction role. iubmb Life, 58: 409-419, 2006