Low peak bone mass and attenuated response to parathyroid hormone in mice with an osteoblast-specific deletion of connexin43

Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Journal of Cell Science (Impact Factor: 5.43). 11/2006; 119(Pt 20):4187-98. DOI: 10.1242/jcs.03162
Source: PubMed


Connexin43 (Cx43) is involved in bone development, but its role in adult bone homeostasis remains unknown. To overcome the postnatal lethality of Cx43 null mutation, we generated mice with selective osteoblast ablation of Cx43, obtained using a Cx43fl allele and a 2.3-kb fragment of the alpha1(I) collagen promoter to drive Cre in osteoblasts (ColCre). Conditionally osteoblast-deleted ColCre;Cx43-/fl mice show no malformations at birth, but develop low peak bone mass and remain osteopenic with age, exhibiting reduced bone formation and defective osteoblast function. By both radiodensitometry and histology, bone mineral content increased rapidly and progressively in adult Cx43+/fl mice after subcutaneous injection of parathyroid hormone (PTH), an effect significantly attenuated in ColCre;Cx43-/fl mice, with Cx43-/fl exhibiting an intermediate response. Attenuation of PTH anabolic action was associated with failure to increase mineral apposition rate in response to PTH in ColCre;Cx43-/fl, despite an increased osteoblast number, suggesting a functional defect in Cx43-deficient bone-forming cells. In conclusion, lack of Cx43 in osteoblasts leads to suboptimal acquisition of peak bone mass, and hinders the bone anabolic effect of PTH. Cx43 represents a potential target for modulation of bone anabolism.

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Available from: Marcus P Watkins, May 06, 2014
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    • "The requirement of Cx43 for these anti-apoptotic actions is conferred by the cytoplasmic CT domain of the protein, as demonstrated by the inability of bisphosphonates/PTH to prevent apoptosis in cells expressing a truncated Cx43 mutant lacking the CT domain [19] [20]. The fact that preservation of osteoblast viability contributes at least in part to the anabolic effect of PTH in cancellous bone [21] and that mice lacking Cx43 in 2.3 kb-col1a1-expressing osteoblastic cells exhibit a deficient response to intermittent PTH administration [12] suggests that Cx43 might be a central player for PTH action. However, the role of Cx43 expression in particular in osteocytes as well as the CT domain for the anabolic effect of PTH on the skeleton has not been investigated. "

    Full-text · Dataset · Oct 2015
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    • "Thus, global deletion of Cx43 results in delayed ossification and impaired osteoblast differentiation in the embryos (Lecanda et al., 2000). In addition, studies with tissue specific deletion of Cx43 have demonstrated that the adult skeleton is also affected by the absence of the connexin (Chung et al., 2006; Watkins et al., 2011; Zhang et al., 2011; Bivi et al., 2012a,b). Cx43 is also important for osteoclast differentiation, as demonstrated in mice in which the connexin was deleted from osteoclast precursors (Sternlieb et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cell function and survival are controlled by intracellular signals, and modulated by surrounding cells and the extracellular environment. Connexin channels participate in these processes by mediating cell-to-cell communication. In bone cells, gap junction channels were detected in the early 1970s, and are present among bone resorbing osteoclasts, bone forming osteoblasts, and osteocytes - mature osteoblasts embedded in the mineralized matrix. These channels are composed mainly by Cx43, although the expression of other connexins (45, 46, and 37) has also been reported. It is now believed that undocked Cx43 hemichannels (connexons) formed in unopposed cell membranes facing the extracellular environment participate in the interaction of bone cells with the extracellular environment, and in their communication with neighboring cells. Thus, we and others demonstrated the presence of active hemichannels in osteoblastic and osteocytic cells. These hemichannels open in response to pharmacological and mechanical stimulation. In particular, preservation of the viability of osteoblasts and osteocytes by the anti-osteoporotic drugs bisphosphonates depends on Cx43 expression in vitro and in vivo, and is mediated by undocked hemichannels. Cx43 hemichannels are also required for the release of prostaglandins and ATP by osteocytes, and for cell survival induced by mechanical stimulation in vitro. Moreover, they are required for the anti-apoptotic effect of parathyroid hormone in osteoblastic cells. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the presence and function of undocked connexons, and the role of hemichannel regulation for the maintenance of bone cell viability and, potentially, bone health.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Frontiers in Physiology
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    • "Cx43 is required for osteoblastic proliferation [13], survival [14] and differentiation [15-17]. In addition to regulating osteoblast maturation in vitro, Cx43 plays an important role in bone homeostasis in vivo as demonstrated by the osteopenic phenotype that is associated with several models of Cx43 deficiency in bone [10,18,19]. Global alterations in Cx43 expression result in perinatal lethality due to neural tube defects and patent ductus arteriosus upon complete loss of Cx43 or systemic overexpression of Cx43 [20,21]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Connexin 43 (Cx43) is the most abundant gap junction protein in bone and is required for osteoblastic differentiation and bone homeostasis. During fracture healing, Cx43 is abundantly expressed in osteoblasts and osteocytes, while Cx43 deficiency impairs bone formation and healing. In the present study we selectively deleted Cx43 in the osteoblastic lineage from immature osteoblasts through osteocytes and tested the hypothesis that Cx43 deficiency results in delayed osteoblastic differentiation and impaired restoration of biomechanical properties due to attenuated β-catenin expression relative to wild type littermates. Here we show that Cx43 deficiency results in alterations in the mineralization and remodeling phases of healing. In Cx43 deficient fractures the mineralization phase is marked by delayed expression of osteogenic genes. Additionally, the decrease in the RankL/ Opg ratio, osteoclast number and osteoclast size suggest decreased osteoclast bone resorption and remodeling. These changes in healing result in functional deficits as shown by a decrease in ultimate torque at failure. Consistent with these impairments in healing, β-catenin expression is attenuated in Cx43 deficient fractures at 14 and 21 days, while Sclerostin (Sost) expression, a negative regulator of bone formation is increased in Cx43cKO fractures at 21 days, as is GSK-3β, a key component of the β-catenin proteasomal degradation complex. Furthermore, we show that alterations in healing in Cx43 deficient fractures can be rescued by inhibiting GSK-3β activity using Lithium Chloride (LiCl). Treatment of Cx43 deficient mice with LiCl restores both normal bone formation and mechanical properties relative to LiCl treated WT fractures. This study suggests that Cx43 is a potential therapeutic target to enhance fracture healing and identifies a previously unknown role for Cx43 in regulating β-catenin expression and thus bone formation during fracture repair.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · PLoS ONE
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