Roles of connexins and pannexins in (neuro)endocrine physiology
Hodson DJ., Legros C., Desarmenien MG., Guerineau NC.
To ensure appropriate secretion in response to demand, (neuro)endocrine tissues liberate massive quantities of hormones, which act to coordinate and synchronize biological signals in distant secretory and nonsecretory cell populations. Intercellular communication plays a central role in this control. With regard to molecular identity, junctional cell-cell communication is supported by connexin-based gap junctions. In addition, connexin hemichannels, the structural precursors of gap junctions, as well as pannexin channels have recently emerged as possible modulators of the secretory process. This review focuses on the expression of connexins and pannexins in various (neuro)endocrine tissues, including the adrenal cortex and medulla, the anterior pituitary, the endocrine hypothalamus and the pineal, thyroid and parathyroid glands. Upon a physiological or pathological stimulus, junctional intercellular coupling can be acutely modulated or persistently remodeled, thus offering multiple regulatory possibilities. The functional roles of gap junction-mediated intercellular communication in endocrine physiology as well as the involvement of connexin/pannexin-related hemichannels are also discussed.