Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Dr. Silvia Penuela


Assistant Professor

Ph.D. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, U.S.A.
B.Sc. Universidad de Los Andes, Bogota, Colombia.

Office: Medical Sciences Building M426, Lab: M423
Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext 84735, 84445

Research Interests:

Our lab is interested in the study of a novel family of channel-forming proteins, called Pannexins (Panx1, Panx2 and Panx3) that were discovered in the last decade based on their similarity to the invertebrate innexins. Although they were originally thought to be another family of gap junction proteins, we have established that their primary function is to form single membrane channels for release and uptake of ions and large molecules, such as ATP, involved in paracrine signaling. Pannexins are very important for cellular communication and are involved in early developmental events in many systems, including skin, cartilage, bone, vasculature and central nervous system, where they regulate proliferation and differentiation of different cell types. However, when expressed in adult tissues, pannexins can also have detrimental effects, for instance, facilitating cell death under ischemic conditions and malignant transformation in melanomas. 

Main Research Areas: 

Selected Publications:

  1. Freeman T, Sayedyahossein S, Johnston D, O’Donnell B, Sanchez-Pupo RE, Nouri-Nejad D, Huang K, Barr KJ, Harland L, Grant A, Latosinsky S, Dagnino L, Penuela S (2019). Inhibition of Pannexin 1 reduces tumorigenic properties of melanoma. Cancers Jan 16;11(1). pii: E102. doi: 10.3390/cancers11010102.

  2. Abitbol JM, O'Donnell BL, Wakefield CB, Jewlal E, Kelly JJ, Barr K, Willmore KE, Allman BL, Penuela S (2019). Double deletion of Panx1 and Panx3 affects skin and bone but not hearing. J Mol Med. 97(5):723-736.

  3. Ivanova I, Arulantham S, Barr K, Cepeda M, Parkins K, Hamilton A, Johnston D, Penuela S, Hess D, Ronald J, Dagnino L (2019). Targeting Fer Kinase inhibits melanoma growth and metastasis. Cancers Mar 24;11(3). pii: E419. doi: 10.3390/cancers11030419..

  4. Lee VR, Barr K, Kelly JJ, Johnston D, Brown CFC, Robb KP, Sayedyahossein S, Huang K, Gros R, Flynn LE, Penuela S (2018). Pannexin 1 regulates adipose stromal cell differentiation and fat accumulation. Sci Rep. 8(1):16166. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34234-9.

  5. Sanchez Pupo RE, Johnston D, Penuela S (2018). N-glycosylation regulates Pannexin 2 localization but is not required for interacting with Pannexin 1. Int J Mol Sci. 19(7) pii: E1837. doi: 10.3390/ijms19071837.

  6. Maes M, McGill MR, da Silva TC, Abels C, Lebofsky M, Weemhoff JL, Tiburcio T, Veloso Alves Pereira I, Willebrords J, Crespo Yanguas S, Farhood A, Beschin A, Van Ginderachter JA, Penuela S, Jaeschke H, Cogliati B, Vinken M. (2017). Inhibition of pannexin1 channels alleviates acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity. Arch Toxicol 91(5):2245-2261. doi: 10.1007/s00204-016-1885-6.

  7. Jiang JX., Penuela S. (2016). Connexin and Pannexin channels in cancer. BMC Cell Biology. May 24;17 Suppl 1:12. doi: 10.1186/s12860-016-0094-8.

  8. Moon P*, Penuela S*, Barr KJ, Pin CL, Welch I, Attur M, Abramson SB, Laird DW, Beier F (2015). Cartilage-specific deletion of Panx3 prevents the development of surgically induced osteoarthritis. J Mol Med. 93(8):845-56 *equal co-first author.

For more publications, please visit Dr. Penuela's Google Scholar page.