Gap Junctions or Hemichannel-Dependent and Independent Roles of Connexins in Fibrosis, Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transitions, and Wound Healing

Yuting Li, Francisca M. Acosta, Jean X. Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Fibrosis initially appears as a normal response to damage, where activated fibroblasts produce large amounts of the extracellular matrix (ECM) during the wound healing process to assist in the repair of injured tissue. However, the excessive accumulation of the ECM, unresolved by remodeling mechanisms, leads to organ dysfunction. Connexins, a family of transmembrane channel proteins, are widely recognized for their major roles in fibrosis, the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), and wound healing. Efforts have been made in recent years to identify novel mediators and targets for this regulation. Connexins form gap junctions and hemichannels, mediating communications between neighboring cells and inside and outside of cells, respectively. Recent evidence suggests that connexins, beyond forming channels, possess channel-independent functions in fibrosis, the EMT, and wound healing. One crucial channel-independent function is their role as the primary functional component for cell adhesion. Other channel-independent functions of connexins involve their roles in mitochondria and exosomes. This review summarizes the latest advances in the channel-dependent and independent roles of connexins in fibrosis, the EMT, and wound healing, with a particular focus on eye diseases, emphasizing their potential as novel, promising therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1796
JournalBiomolecules
Volume13
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • EMT
  • connexins
  • fibrosis
  • gap junctions
  • hemichannels
  • wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry

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