Regulation of pannexin and connexin channels and their functional role in skeletal muscles

Juan C. Sáez, Bruno A. Cisterna, Anibal Vargas, Christopher P. Cardozo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Myogenic precursor cells express connexins (Cx) and pannexins (Panx), proteins that form different membrane channels involved in cell-cell communication. Cx channels connect either the cytoplasm of adjacent cells, called gap junction channels (GJC), or link the cytoplasm with the extracellular space, termed hemichannels (HC), while Panx channels only support the latter. In myoblasts, Panx1 HCs play a critical role in myogenic differentiation, and Cx GJCs and possibly Cx HCs coordinate metabolic responses during later steps of myogenesis. After innervation, myofibers do not express Cxs, but still express Panx1. In myotubes and innervated myofibers, Panx1 HCs allow release of adenosine triphosphate and thus they might be involved in skeletal muscle plasticity. In addition, Panx1 HCs present in adult myofibers mediate adenosine triphosphate release and glucose uptake required for potentiation of muscle contraction. Under pathological conditions, such as upon denervation and spinal cord injury, levels of Panx1 are upregulated. However, Panx1-/- mice show similar degree of atrophy as denervated wild-type muscles. Skeletal muscles also express Cx HCs in the sarcolemma after denervation or spinal cord injury, plus other non-selective membrane channels, including purinergic P2X7 receptors and transient receptor potential type V2 channels. The absence of Cx43 and Cx45 is sufficient to drastically reduce denervation atrophy. Moreover, inflammatory cytokines also induce the expression of Cxs in myofibers, suggesting the expression of these Cxs as a common factor for myofiber degeneration under diverse pathological conditions. Inhibitors of skeletal muscle Cx HCs could be promising tools to prevent muscle wasting induced by conditions associated with synaptic dysfunction and inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2929-2935
Number of pages7
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number15
StatePublished - 24 Aug 2015


  • Connexons
  • Denervation
  • Myoblasts
  • Myogenesis
  • Myotubes
  • Pannexons
  • Striate muscles


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