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Cell Calcium. 2009 Sep;46(3):176-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2009.07.002. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Ca(2+) regulation of connexin 43 hemichannels in C6 glioma and glial cells.

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Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.


Connexin hemichannels have a low open probability under normal conditions but open in response to various stimuli, forming a release pathway for small paracrine messengers. We investigated hemichannel-mediated ATP responses triggered by changes of intracellular Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)](i)) in Cx43 expressing glioma cells and primary glial cells. The involvement of hemichannels was confirmed with gja1 gene-silencing and exclusion of other release mechanisms. Hemichannel responses were triggered when [Ca(2+)](i) was in the 500nM range but the responses disappeared with larger [Ca(2+)](i) transients. Ca(2+)-triggered responses induced by A23187 and glutamate activated a signaling cascade that involved calmodulin (CaM), CaM-dependent kinase II, p38 mitogen activated kinase, phospholipase A2, arachidonic acid (AA), lipoxygenases, cyclo-oxygenases, reactive oxygen species, nitric oxide and depolarization. Hemichannel responses were also triggered by activation of CaM with a Ca(2+)-like peptide or exogenous application of AA, and the cascade was furthermore operational in primary glial cells isolated from rat cortex. In addition, several positive feed-back loops contributed to amplify the responses. We conclude that an elevation of [Ca(2+)](i) triggers hemichannel opening, not by a direct action of Ca(2+) on hemichannels but via multiple intermediate signaling steps that are adjoined by distinct signaling mechanisms activated by high [Ca(2+)](i) and acting to restrain cellular ATP loss.

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