Biological responses of osteocytic connexin 43 hemichannels to simulated microgravity

Huiyun Xu, Ruofei Liu, Dandan Ning, Jian Zhang, Ruixin Yang, Manuel A. Riquelme, Jingbao Li, Jean X. Jiang, Peng Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannels and gap junctions in osteocytes are responsive to mechanical loading, which is important for bone formation and remodeling. However, the mechanism of these Cx43-forming channels in the process of mechanical unloading is still not very clear. In this study, unloading caused by weightlessness was simulated by using a random position machine (RPM). Osteocytic MLO-Y4 cells were subjected to 2 h of RPM treatment, and levels of Cx43 mRNA and total and cell surface expressed protein were determined by quantitative real-time PCR, western blotting, and biotinylation analysis. Although mRNA was elevated by RPM, total protein level of Cx43 was not altered; however, surface biotinylated Cx43 was significantly reduced. Interestingly, RPM promoted the retention of Cx43 in the Golgi apparatus detected by co-immunofluorescence with antibodies against Cx43 and 58 K Golgi marker protein. Dye uptake assay showed that hemichannels were induced open after RPM for 2 h. Consistently, prostaglandin E2 release was increased and this increase was completely attenuated with the treatment of a Cx43 hemichannel blocking antibody. Together, this study demonstrates increased activity of Cx43 hemichannels to RPM, and active Cx43 hemichannels with prostaglandin E2 release are likely to module biological function under simulated weightless conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1202
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • connexin43
  • hemichannel
  • osteocyte
  • random position machine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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