Cell-to-cell communication between bone, cartilage and the synovial membrane is not fully understood and it is only attributed to the diffusion of substances through the extracellular space or synovial fluid. In this study, we found for the first time that primary bone cells (BCs) including osteocytes, synovial cells (SCs) and chondrocytes (CHs) are able to establish cellular contacts and to couple through gap junction (GJ) channels with connexin43 (Cx43) being dominant. Transwell co-culture and identification by mass spectrometry revealed the exchange of essential amino acids, peptides and proteins including calnexin, calreticulin or CD44 antigen between contacting SCs, BCs and CHs. These results reveal that CHs, SCs and BCs are able to establish intercellular connections and to communicate through GJ channels, which provide a selective signalling route by the direct exchange of potent signalling molecules and metabolites.
Carpintero-Fernandez, P., Gago-Fuentes, R., Wang, H. Z., Fonseca, E., Caeiro, J. R., Valiunas, V., … Mayan, M. D. (2018). Intercellular communication via gap junction channels between chondrocytes and bone cells. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1860(12), 2499–2505. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2018.09.009