Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Connexins in the development and physiology of stem cells.

Connexins (Cxs) form gap junction (GJ) channels linking vertebrate cells. During embryogenesis, Cxs are expressed as early as the 4-8 cell stage. As cells differentiate into pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) and during gastrulation, the Cx expression pattern is adapted. Knockdown of Cx43 and Cx45 does not interfere with embryogenic development until the blastula stage, questioning the role of Cxs in PSC physiology and development. Studies in cultivated and induced PSCs (iPSCs) showed that Cx43 is essential for the maintenance of self-renewal and the expression of pluripotency markers. It was found that the role of Cxs in PSCs is more related to regulation of transcription or cell-cell adherence than to formation of GJ channels. Furthermore, a crucial role of Cxs for the self-renewal and differentiation was shown in cultivated adult mesenchymal stem cells. This review aims to highlight aspects that link Cxs to the function and physiology of stem cell development.

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