This article is part of the Research Topic Hemichannels; from the molecule to the function.


Front. Physiol., 25 February 2014 |

Connexin and Pannexin hemichannels are regulated by redox potential

  • Facultad de Medicina Clínica Alemana, Centro de Fisiología Celular e Integrativa, Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago, Chile

Connexins (Cxs) and Pannexins (Panxs) are two non-related protein families, having both the property to form hemichannels at the plasma membrane. There are 21 genes coding for different Cx based proteins and only 3 for Panx. Under physiological conditions, these hemichannels (Cxs and Panxs) present a low open probability, but when open, they allow the release of signaling molecules to the extracellular space. However, under pathological conditions, these hemichannels increase their open probability, inducing important lysis of metabolites, and ionic imbalance, which in turn induce the massive entry of Ca+2 to the cell. Actually, it is well recognized that Cxs and Panxs based channels play an important role in several diseases and -in many cases- this is associated with an aberrant hemichannel opening. Hemichannel opening and closing are controlled by a plethora of signaling including changes of the voltage plasma membrane, protein-protein interactions, and several posttranslational modifications, including protein cleavage, phosphorylation, glycosylation, hydroxylation and S-nitrosylation, among others. In particular, it has been recently shown that the cellular redox status modulates the opening/closing and permeability of at least Cx43, Cx46, and Panx1 hemichannels. Thus, for example, the gaseous transmitter nitric oxide (NO) can induce the S-nitrosylation of these proteins modulating in turn several of their properties. The reason is that the redox status of a cell is fundamental to set their response to the environment and also plays an important role in several pathologies. In this review, I will discuss how NO and other molecules associated with redox signaling modulate Cxs and Panx hemichannels properties.

Keywords: carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, connexin, S-Nitrosylation, redox signaling

Citation: Retamal MA (2014) Connexin and Pannexin hemichannels are regulated by redox potential. Front. Physiol. 5:80. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00080

Received: 14 November 2013; Accepted: 08 February 2014;
Published online: 25 February 2014.

Edited by:

Juan C. Sáez, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile

Reviewed by:

John Cuppoletti, University of Cincinnati, USA
Jorge Arreola, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Copyright © 2014 Retamal. 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: Mauricio A. Retamal, Facultad de Medicina Clínica Alemana, Centro de Fisiología Celular e Integrativa, Universidad del Desarrollo, Avenida Las Condes #12438, Santiago, Chile e-mail: