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P2X receptor-mediated ATP purinergic signaling in health and disease

Authors Jiang L

Received 21 July 2012

Accepted for publication 8 August 2012

Published 19 September 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 83—101

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CHC.S27196

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Lin-Hua Jiang

School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom


Abstract: Purinergic P2X receptors are plasma membrane proteins present in a wide range of mammalian cells where they act as a cellular sensor, enabling cells to detect and respond to extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an important signaling molecule. P2X receptors function as ligand-gated Ca2+-permeable cationic channels that open upon ATP binding to elevate intracellular Ca2+ concentrations and cause membrane depolarization. In response to sustained activation, P2X receptors induce formation of a pore permeable to large molecules. P2X receptors also interact with distinct functional proteins and membrane lipids to form specialized signaling complexes. Studies have provided compelling evidence to show that such P2X receptor-mediated ATP-signaling mechanisms determine and regulate a growing number and diversity of important physiological processes, including neurotransmission, muscle contraction, and cytokine release. There is accumulating evidence to support strong causative relationships of altered receptor expression and function with chronic pain, inflammatory diseases, cancers, and other pathologies or diseases. Numerous high throughput screening drug discovery programs and preclinical studies have thus far demonstrated the proof of concepts that the P2X receptors are druggable targets and selective receptor antagonism is a promising therapeutics approach. This review will discuss the recent progress in understanding the mammalian P2X receptors with respect to the ATP-signaling mechanisms, physiological and pathophysiological roles, and development and preclinical studies of receptor antagonists.

Keywords: extracellular ATP, ion channel, large pore, signaling complex, chronic pain, inflammatory diseases

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