Cell-cell communication in the osteoblast/osteocyte lineage

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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Skeletal development (bone modeling) and its maintenance in post-natal life in response to local and systemic stimuli (bone remodeling) require coordinated activity among osteoblasts (bone forming cells), osteocytes (cells embedded in bone) and osteoclasts (bone resorbing cells), in order to meet the needs of structural integrity, mechanical competence and maintenance of mineral homeostasis. One mechanism of cell-cell interaction is via direct cell-cell communication via gap junctions. These are transmembrane channels that allow continuity of cytoplasms between communicating cells. The biologic importance of connexin43 (Cx43), the most abundant gap junction protein in the skeleton is demonstrated by the skeletal malformations present in oculodentodigital dysplasia (ODDD), a disease linked to Cx43 gene (GJA1) mutations, and by the low bone mass and osteoblast dysfunction in Gja1 ablated mice. The presence of Cx43 is required for osteoblast differentiation and function, and by forming either gap junctions or "hemichannels" Cx43 allows participation of cell networks to responses to extracellular stimuli, via propagation of specific signals converging upon connexin sensitive transcriptional units. Hence, Cx43 is involved in skeletal responsiveness to anabolic signals, as those provided by parathyroid hormone and physical load, the latter function probably involving osteocyte-osteoblast communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-192
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 15 2008


  • Bone
  • Cell-cell communication
  • Connexin
  • Gap junctions
  • Mouse genetics
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteocyte

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