Connexins: sensors of epidermal integrity that are therapeutic targets

Patricia Martin, Jennifer A. Easton, Malcolm B. Hodgins, Catherine Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Gap junction proteins (connexins) are differentially expressed throughout the multiple layers of the epidermis. A variety of skin conditions arise with aberrant connexin expression or function and suggest that maintaining the epidermal gap junction network has many important roles in preserving epidermal integrity and homeostasis. Mutations in a number of connexins lead to epidermal dysplasias
giving rise to a range of dermatological disorders of differing severity. ‘Gain of function’ mutations reveal connexin-mediated roles in calcium signalling within the epidermis. Connexins are involved in epidermal innate immunity, inflammation control and in wound repair. The therapeutic potential of targeting connexins to improve wound healing responses is now clear. This review discusses the role of connexins in epidermal integrity, and examines the emerging evidence that connexins act as epidermal sensors to a variety of mechanical, temperature, pathogen-induced and chemical stimuli. Connexins thus act as an integral component of the skin’s protective barrier.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1304–1314
Number of pages11
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number8
Early online date4 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2014


  • cell signalling
  • connexin
  • epidermal sensor
  • epidermis
  • gap junction
  • therapeutic target

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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