Connexin 43 Channels in Osteocytes Regulate Bone Responses to Mechanical Unloading

Dezhi Zhao, Ruofei Liu, Guobin Li, Meng Chen, Peng Shang, Hui Yang, Jean X. Jiang, Huiyun Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Connexin (Cx) 43 forms gap junctions and hemichannels that mediate communication between osteocytes and adjacent cells or the extracellular environment in bone, respectively. To investigate the role of each channel type in response to mechanical unloading, two transgenic mouse models overexpressing dominant-negative Cx43 predominantly in osteocytes driven by a 10 kb dentin matrix protein 1 (Dmp1) promoter were generated. The R76W mutation resulted in gap junction inhibition and enhancement of hemichannels, whereas the Δ130–136 mutation inhibited both gap junctions and hemichannels. Both mutations led to cortical bone loss with increased endocortical osteoclast activity during unloading. Increased periosteal osteoclasts with decreased apoptotic osteocytes were observed only in R76W mice. These findings indicated that inhibiting osteocytic Cx43 channels promotes bone loss induced by unloading, mainly in the cortical area; moreover, hemichannels protect osteocytes against apoptosis and promote periosteal bone remodeling, whereas gap junctions modulate endocortical osteoclast activity in response to unloading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number299
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
StatePublished - Mar 31 2020


  • Cx43
  • gap junction
  • hemichannel
  • hindlimb unloading
  • osteocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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