Gap junctions (GJs) formed by connexins (Cxs) play an important role in the intercellular communication within most body tissues. In this paper, we focus on GJs and Cxs present in skeletal tissues. Cx43 is the most expressed connexin, participating in the formation of both GJs for intercellular communication and hemichannels (HCs) for communication with the external environment. Through GJs in long dendritic-like cytoplasmic processes, osteocytes embedded in deep lacunae are able to form a functional syncytium not only with neighboring osteocytes but also with bone cells located at the bone surface, despite the surrounding mineralized matrix. The functional syncytium allows a coordinated cell activity through the wide propagation of calcium waves, nutrients and anabolic and/or catabolic factors. Acting as mechanosensors, osteocytes are able to transduce mechanical stimuli into biological signals that spread through the syncytium to orchestrate bone remodeling. The fundamental role of Cxs and GJs is confirmed by a plethora of investigations that have highlighted how up- and downregulation of Cxs and GJs critically influence skeletal development and cartilage functions. A better knowledge of GJ and Cx mechanisms in physiological and pathological conditions might help in developing therapeutic approaches aimed at the treatment of human skeletal system disorders.

Functional Roles of Connexins and Gap Junctions in Osteo-Chondral Cellular Components

Agata Zappala;Ivana Roberta Romano;Floriana D'ANGELI;Giuseppe Musumeci;DEBORA LO FURNO;Rosario Giuffrida;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Gap junctions (GJs) formed by connexins (Cxs) play an important role in the intercellular communication within most body tissues. In this paper, we focus on GJs and Cxs present in skeletal tissues. Cx43 is the most expressed connexin, participating in the formation of both GJs for intercellular communication and hemichannels (HCs) for communication with the external environment. Through GJs in long dendritic-like cytoplasmic processes, osteocytes embedded in deep lacunae are able to form a functional syncytium not only with neighboring osteocytes but also with bone cells located at the bone surface, despite the surrounding mineralized matrix. The functional syncytium allows a coordinated cell activity through the wide propagation of calcium waves, nutrients and anabolic and/or catabolic factors. Acting as mechanosensors, osteocytes are able to transduce mechanical stimuli into biological signals that spread through the syncytium to orchestrate bone remodeling. The fundamental role of Cxs and GJs is confirmed by a plethora of investigations that have highlighted how up- and downregulation of Cxs and GJs critically influence skeletal development and cartilage functions. A better knowledge of GJ and Cx mechanisms in physiological and pathological conditions might help in developing therapeutic approaches aimed at the treatment of human skeletal system disorders.
2023
Cx43
Gap junctions
bone
cartilage
chondrocytes
connexins
homeostasis
mesenchymal stem cells
osteoblasts
osteoclasts
osteocytes
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/552682
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