Connexion Connection

March 06, 2017

Connexin Connection 

 References: Wikipedia, Molecular FitnessCell Science

 Ever heard of Connexins? I hadn't. Until I read Darrell Tanelian's book. Here is what they are. They are the proteins that make up the connecting channels between cells. Different organs in your body act together in concert because they know they are the same as their neighbor. A liver cell knows it is a liver cell because it has hundreds of connecting little passageways between itself and its neighbor. 

Those protein bridges are constructed of 6 identical proteins that fit together to make a cohesive channel that connects one cell to another. A brain cell knows it is a brain cell because its connections tell it that it is in a brain environment. Same with pancreas, gut, muscle, heart, kidney, get the drift. That channel can relax and open up, letting stuff through, or it can shut down and close off passage of any signaling messages. 

A healthy cell has a lot of connecting passages/links between itself and its neighbors. And an unhealthy cell has fewer and fewer connecting sites. You will get the drift of the power of connexins with gut cells. Your intestine has a one-cell layer between your food (the outside world) and your inner self, your immune system and your blood supply. That cell layer is held together with three tiny bridges of connexins. Inflammatory bowel disease appears to be an illness of uncontrolled inflammation, in part because of dysfunctional connexin activity. 

This appears to be the cutting edge of gut research right now, as the functions of connexins, and their cousins, panexins, appears to be the mechanism behind most gut diseases. There are even some commercial companies selling the agents that pass back and forth between gut cells in their communications through their gap junctions as a means of fixing gluten and glyphosate injury to the gut.

 The bottom line of connexins is that they allow multi-cellular organisms to exist. Without different tissues being able to differentiate themselves into organs with separate form and function, we wouldn't benefit from being anything more than a big algae. 

The process of cellular evolution from single cell to human beings is founded on connexins. They had to come very early in the game of life on earth. Being that fundamental to human form, the well-being of connexins and understanding their role in health for the greater organism might be a critical link to understanding. And that is about as state of the art as we can get. 

 WWW.What will work for me. I want to know more. I love getting down to the details, especially if it's something I can change with lifestyle choices. I found the topic getting a sense that being overweight and insulin intolerant starts with dysfunctional connexins. I'm fascinated. More next week. 

Pop Quiz

1. Connexins are proteins that allow cells to communicate with each other. T or F?      Answer: Bingo.   Right on the money. ‪

2. The ability of different tissues to act differently from other tissues depends on cells working together in a coordinated fashion, which requires connexins? T or F?          Answer:  Ok, now you are on a roll. ‪

3. If I understand it, connexins might then be part of organ tissues repairing themselves, and keeping themselves happy?   T or F?                   Answer:  You are getting ahead but you got the drift. We are now researching how to repair damaged heart tissue with stem cells. Their ability to develop into new heart cells requires that they get their connexins right. ‪

4. Single cell organisms have connexins. T or F?                 Answer:  Nope. It's connexins that define multi cell organisms, up to and including you. 

 ‪5. Every organ in the human body has connexins. T or F?                  Answer True. And their health depends on their having a good population of them.   

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