A gap junction is formed by a ringlike connexon, which consists of six transmembrane proteins surrounding a water-filled channel. Ions, glucose, amino acids, and other small solutes can pass directly from the cytoplasm of one cell into the next through these channels. In the embryo, nutrients pass from cell to cell through gap junctions until the circulatory system forms and takes over the role of nutrient distribution. Gap junctions are found in the intercalated discs of cardiac muscle and between the cells of some smooth muscle. The flow of ions through these junctions allows electrical excitation to pass directly from cell to cell so that the cells contract in near-unison. Gap junctions are absent from skeletal muscle.
Chapter 5 Histology 179
Insight 5.2 Clinical Application
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.