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Connexin43 Modulation of Osteoblast/Osteocyte Apoptosis: A Potential Therapeutic Target?

Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1359/jbmr.0811c
  • Commentary
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Connexin43 Modulation of Osteoblast/Osteocyte Apoptosis: A Potential Therapeutic Target? Commentary Connexin43 Modulation of Osteoblast/Osteocyte Apoptosis: A Potential Therapeutic Target? Roberto Civitelli GAP JUNCTIONS ARE arrays of transcellular channels thatallow aqueous continuity between the cytoplasms of two adjacent cells. A gap junction channel is established by docking of two “hemichannels” or connexons present on juxtaposed cells, thus forming a transcellular conduit through which ions and small molecules can diffuse from cell to cell.(1) Each connexon is composed of a hexameric array of gap junction proteins, called connexins.(2) Gap junctions are abundantly present in osteoblasts and osteo- cytes, and in vitro studies have shown that they can propa- gate signals among osteoblasts and between osteocytes and osteoblasts.(3,4) A large body of in vivo and in vitro data have established that connexins, and in particular con- nexin43 (Cx43), the most abundant in bone, are involved in many aspects of bone cell function, including control of osteoblastic cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival, as well as in skeletal development and postnatal bone mass acquisition.(5,6) The finding of a genetic link between the human disease oculodentodigital dysplasia and loss-of- function mutations of the Cx43 gene, GJA1(7,8) shows that the skeletal tissue is one of the main sites of action of Cx43. Such a link has been confirmed by mouse mutants modeling the disease.(9,10) In addition to the ability to form gap junctions, evidence has accumulated indicating that gap junction hemichannels can exist without docking to another hemichannel, thus functioning in the guise of membrane channels of large permeability.(11) For example, Cx43 hemichannels have been shown to regulate the release of ATP and prostaglan- din E2 (PGE2) in response to mechanical stimulation in osteocytes.(12) Elegant earlier work of Plotkin et al.(13) had shown that Cx43 hemichannels are intimately involved in the mec

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