Chekeni FB, Elliott MR, Sandilos JK et al.Pannexin 1 channels mediate 'find-me' signal release and membrane permeability during apoptosis. Nature 467:863-867

Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Research, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 10/2010; 467(7317):863-7. DOI: 10.1038/nature09413
Source: PubMed


Apoptotic cells release 'find-me' signals at the earliest stages of death to recruit phagocytes. The nucleotides ATP and UTP represent one class of find-me signals, but their mechanism of release is not known. Here, we identify the plasma membrane channel pannexin 1 (PANX1) as a mediator of find-me signal/nucleotide release from apoptotic cells. Pharmacological inhibition and siRNA-mediated knockdown of PANX1 led to decreased nucleotide release and monocyte recruitment by apoptotic cells. Conversely, PANX1 overexpression enhanced nucleotide release from apoptotic cells and phagocyte recruitment. Patch-clamp recordings showed that PANX1 was basally inactive, and that induction of PANX1 currents occurred only during apoptosis. Mechanistically, PANX1 itself was a target of effector caspases (caspases 3 and 7), and a specific caspase-cleavage site within PANX1 was essential for PANX1 function during apoptosis. Expression of truncated PANX1 (at the putative caspase cleavage site) resulted in a constitutively open channel. PANX1 was also important for the 'selective' plasma membrane permeability of early apoptotic cells to specific dyes. Collectively, these data identify PANX1 as a plasma membrane channel mediating the regulated release of find-me signals and selective plasma membrane permeability during apoptosis, and a new mechanism of PANX1 activation by caspases.

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    • "Pannexin 1 (Panx1) channels control the release of ATP and other nucleotides from many cell types [25]. For example, activation of Panx1 channels initiates paracrine signaling that controls blood vessel constriction [26] [27] and clearance of dying cells [28]. Pannexins (Panx1, 2, and 3) are hexameric membrane channels that are structurally similar to connexins but do not form gap-junctions [29]. "
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