This article is part of the Research Topic Gap Junctional Communication in Health and Disease

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Front. Physiol., 25 February 2014 | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00063

The role of pannexin hemichannels in inflammation and regeneration

  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA
  • 3Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Vavilov Institute for General Genetics, Moscow, Russia

Tissue injury involves coordinated systemic responses including inflammatory response, targeted cell migration, cell-cell communication, stem cell activation and proliferation, and tissue inflammation and regeneration. The inflammatory response is an important prerequisite for regeneration. Multiple studies suggest that extensive cell-cell communication during tissue regeneration is coordinated by purinergic signaling via extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Most recent data indicates that ATP release for such communication is mediated by hemichannels formed by connexins and pannexins. The Pannexin family consists of three vertebrate proteins (Panx 1, 2, and 3) that have low sequence homology with other gap junction proteins and were shown to form predominantly non-junctional plasma membrane hemichannels. Pannexin-1 (Panx1) channels function as an integral component of the P2X/P2Y purinergic signaling pathway and is arguably the major contributor to pathophysiological ATP release. Panx1 is expressed in many tissues, with highest levels detected in developing brain, retina and skeletal muscles. Panx1 channel expression and activity is reported to increase significantly following injury/inflammation and during regeneration and differentiation. Recent studies also report that pharmacological blockade of the Panx1 channel or genetic ablation of the Panx1 gene cause significant disruption of progenitor cell migration, proliferation, and tissue regeneration. These findings suggest that pannexins play important roles in activation of both post-injury inflammatory response and the subsequent process of tissue regeneration. Due to wide expression in multiple tissues and involvement in diverse signaling pathways, pannexins and connexins are currently being considered as therapeutic targets for traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, ischemic stroke and cancer. The precise role of pannexins and connexins in the balance between tissue inflammation and regeneration needs to be further understood.

Keywords: pannexin, connexin, Panx1, inflammation, regeneration, stem cell, P2X7R, FGF

Citation: Makarenkova HP and Shestopalov VI (2014) The role of pannexin hemichannels in inflammation and regeneration. Front. Physiol. 5:63. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00063

Received: 11 November 2013; Accepted: 02 February 2014;
Published online: 25 February 2014.

Edited by:

Georg Zoidl, York University, Canada

Reviewed by:

Agenor Limon, University of California Irvine, USA
Rob Gourdie, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, USA

Copyright © 2014 Makarenkova and Shestopalov. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Helen P. Makarenkova, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, 1550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA e-mail: hmakarenk@scripps.edu

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