A mechanism of intracellular P2X receptor activation

Venketesh Sivaramakrishnan, Samuel J. Fountain

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17 Citations (Scopus)


P2X receptors (P2XRs) are ATP-activated calcium-permeable ligand-gated ion channels traditionally viewed as sensors of extracellular ATP during diverse physiological processes including pain, inflammation, and taste. However, in addition to a cell surface residency P2XRs also populate the membranes of intracellular compartments, including mammalian lysosomes, phagosomes, and the contractile vacuole (CV) of the amoeba Dictyostelium. The function of intracellular P2XRs is unclear and represents a major gap in our understanding of ATP signaling. Here, we exploit the genetic versatility of Dictyostelium to investigate the effects of physiological concentrations of ATP on calcium signaling in isolated CVs. Within the CV, an acidic calcium store, P2XRs are orientated to sense luminal ATP. Application of ATP to isolated vacuoles leads to luminal translocation of ATP and release of calcium. Mechanisms of luminal ATP translocation and ATP-evoked calcium release share common pharmacology, suggesting that they are linked processes. The ability of ATP to mobilize stored calcium is reduced in vacuoles isolated from P2XAR knock-out amoeba and ablated in cells devoid of P2XRs. Pharmacological inhibition of luminal ATP translocation or depletion of CV calcium attenuates CV function in vivo, manifesting as a loss of regulatory cell volume decrease following osmotic swelling. We propose that intracellular P2XRs regulate vacuole activity by acting as calcium release channels, activated by translocation of ATP into the vacuole lumen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28315-28326
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2012

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