PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractGap junction proteins (connexins) are essential components in vital cellular processes such as intercellular communication. Apoptosis is the process through which cells are systematically killed and recycled to maintain healthy tissues and organs. Through a plethora of different signaling cascades connexins can directly influence the incidence of apoptosis in tissue. The relationship between connexins and apoptosis has been recognized by the scientific community, but the factors that govern this relationship remain mysterious. In some tissues connexins have been observed to promote apoptotic activity in combination with cell stressors, while in other tissues connexins prove protective against apoptosis even when cells are stressed. For instance in cancerous tissue and primary culture connexins are often found to be proapoptotic, while in healthy tissues connexins often prove anti-apoptotic when cells are subjected to stressors. In effect, connexins are dynamic proteins that have the potential to change from supporting life to supporting death based a complex interaction between the extracellular environment and internal cellular cues.
Degree ProgramHonors College