Gap junctions and hemichannels in signal transmission, function and development of bone

Nidhi Batra, Rekha Kar, Jean X. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) mediated by connexins, in particular connexin 43 (Cx43), plays important roles in regulating signal transmission among different bone cells and thereby regulates development, differentiation, modeling and remodeling of the bone. GJIC regulates osteoblast formation, differentiation, survival and apoptosis. Osteoclast formation and resorptive ability are also reported to be modulated by GJIC. Furthermore, osteocytes utilize GJIC to coordinate bone remodeling in response to anabolic factors and mechanical loading. Apart from gap junctions, connexins also form hemichannels, which are localized on the cell surface and function independently of the gap junction channels. Both these channels mediate the transfer of molecules smaller than 1.2 kDa including small ions, metabolites, ATP, prostaglandin and IP3. The biological importance of the communication mediated by connexin-forming channels in bone development is revealed by the low bone mass and osteoblast dysfunction in the Cx43-null mice and the skeletal malformations observed in occulodentodigital dysplasia (ODDD) caused by mutations in the Cx43 gene. The current review summarizes the role of gap junctions and hemichannels in regulating signaling, function and development of bone cells. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: The Communicating junctions, composition, structure and characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1909-1918
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Connexins
  • Gap junctions
  • Hemichannels
  • Mechanical stimulation
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteocyte

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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