Osteoblasts are highly coupled by gap junctions formed primarily by connexin43 (Cx43). We have shown that interference with Cx43 expression or function disrupts transcriptional regulation of osteoblast genes, and that deletion of Cx43 in the mouse causes skeletal malformations, delayed mineralization, and osteoblast dysfunction. Here, we studied the mechanisms by which genetic deficiency of Cx43 alters osteoblast development. While cell proliferation rates were similar in osteoblastic cells derived from calvaria of Cx43-null and wild type mice, camptothecin-induced apoptosis was 3-fold higher in mutant compared to wild type osteoblasts. When grown in mineralizing medium, Cx43-null cells were able to produce mineralized matrix but it took one week longer to reach the same mineralization levels as in normal cells. Likewise, expression of alkaline phosphatase activity per cell - a marker of osteoblast differentiation - was maximal only 2 weeks later in Cx43-null relative to wild-type cells. These observations suggest that Cx43 is important for a normal and timely development of the osteoblastic phenotype. Delayed differentiation and increase programmed cell death may explain the skeletal phenotype of Cx43-null mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-371
Number of pages5
JournalCell Communication and Adhesion
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Bone formation
  • Calvaria cells
  • Gap junction
  • Mineralization
  • Programmed cell death


Dive into the research topics of 'Proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis in connexin43-null osteoblasts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this