Connexins and Pannexins in Bone and Skeletal Muscle


Purpose of review

To discuss current knowledge on the role of connexins and pannexins in the musculoskeletal system.

Recent findings

Connexins and pannexins are crucial for the development and maintenance of both bone and skeletal muscle. In bone, the presence of connexin and more recently of pannexin channels in osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and osteocytes has been described and shown to be essential for normal skeletal development and bone adaptation. In skeletal muscles, connexins and pannexins play important roles during development and regeneration through coordinated regulation of metabolic functions via cell-to-cell communication. Further, under pathological conditions, altered expression of these proteins can promote muscle atrophy and degeneration by stimulating inflammasome activity.


In this review, we highlight the important roles of connexins and pannexins in the development, maintenance, and regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues, with emphasis on the mechanisms by which these molecules mediate chemical (e.g., ATP and prostaglandin E2) and physical (e.g., mechanical stimulation) stimuli that target the musculoskeletal system and their involvement in the pathophysiological changes in both genetic and acquired diseases.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01-AR067210 and R01-AR053643 (to LIP) and T32-AR065971 (to HMD), U.S.A., and by the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT) grant 1150291 (to JCS) and ICM-Economía P09-022-F Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencias de Valparaíso (to JCS), Chile.

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Correspondence to Lilian I. Plotkin or Juan C. Sáez.

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Juan Sáez, Hannah Davis, Lilian Plotkin, and Bruno Cisterna declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Osteocytes

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Plotkin, L.I., Davis, H.M., Cisterna, B.A. et al. Connexins and Pannexins in Bone and Skeletal Muscle. Curr Osteoporos Rep 15, 326–334 (2017).

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  • Gap junctions
  • Hemichannels
  • Connexon
  • Inflammation