Connexin 43 (Cx43)-mediated gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) has been shown to be important in regulating multiple functions of bone cells. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) exhibited controversial effects on the expression of Cx43 in different cell types. To date, the effect of TGF-β1 on the Cx43 expression of osteocytes is still unknown. In the present study, we detected the expression of TGF-β1 in osteocytes and bone tissue, and then used recombinant mouse TGF-β1 to elucidate its effect on gap junctions (GJs) of osteocytes. Our data indicated that TGF-β1 up-regulated both mRNA and protein expression of Cx43 in osteocytes. Together with down-regulation of Cx43 expression after being treated with TGF-β type I receptor inhibitor Repsox, we deduced that TGF-β1 can positively regulate Cx43 expression in osteocytes. Thus we next focussed on the downstream signals of TGF-β and found that TGF-β1-mediated smads, Smad3 and Smad4, to translocate into nucleus. These translocated signal proteins bind to the promoter of Gja1 which was responsible for the changed expression of Cx43. The present study provides evidence that TGF-β1 can enhance GJIC between osteocytes through up-regulating Cx43 expression and the underlying mechanism involved in the activation of Smad-dependent pathway.
Liu, W., Cui, Y., Sun, J., Cai, L., Xie, J., & Zhou, X. (2018). Transforming growth factor-β1 up-regulates connexin43 expression in osteocytes via canonical Smad-dependent signaling pathway. Bioscience Reports, 38(6). https://doi.org/10.1042/BSR20181678