Pannexins constitute a family of three glycoproteins (Panx1, -2, and -3) forming single membrane channels. Recent work demonstrated that Panx1 is expressed in skeletal muscle and involved in the potentiation of contraction. However, Panxs functions in skeletal muscle cell differentiation, and proliferation had yet to be assessed. We show here that Panx1 and Panx3, but not Panx2, are present in human and rodent skeletal muscle, and their various species are differentially expressed in fetal versus adult human skeletal muscle tissue. Panx1 levels were very low in undifferentiated human primary skeletal muscle cells and myoblasts (HSMM) but increased drastically during differentiation and became the main Panx expressed in differentiated cells. Using HSMM, we found that Panx1 expression promotes this process, whereas it was impaired in the presence of probenecid or carbenoxolone. As for Panx3, its lower molecular weight species were prominent in adult skeletal muscle but very low in the fetal tissue and in undifferentiated skeletal muscle cells and myoblasts. Its overexpression (∼43-kDa species) induced HSMM differentiation and also inhibited their proliferation. On the other hand, a ∼70-kDa immunoreactive species of Panx3, likely glycosylated, sialylated, and phosphorylated, was highly expressed in proliferative myoblasts but strikingly down-regulated during their differentiation. Reduction of its endogenous expression using two Panx3 shRNAs significantly inhibited HSMM proliferation without triggering their differentiation. In summary, our results demonstrate that Panx1 and Panx3 are co-expressed in human skeletal muscle myoblasts and play a pivotal role in dictating the proliferation and differentiation status of these cells.
Scientist, CHEO Research Institute