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Connect Tissue Res. 2011 Apr;52(2):139-46. doi: 10.3109/03008207.2010.491928. Epub 2010 Jul 6.

Parallel regulation of extracellular ATP and inorganic pyrophosphate: roles of growth factors, transduction modulators, and ANK.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53295-1000, USA.



Extracellular inorganic pyrophosphate (ePPi) is a key regulator of pathologic mineralization in articular cartilage. Articular chondrocytes generate ePPi by the transportation of intracellular PPi (iPPi) through transport mechanisms such as ANK or by the degradation of extracellular adenosine triphosphate (eATP) by ectoenzymes. Although numerous modulators of ePPi have been characterized, little is known about eATP elaboration in cartilage. We sought to determine (1) whether eATP is coordinately regulated with ePPi and (2) whether ANK transports ATP.


Primary articular chondrocytes were treated with factors known to modulate ePPi levels including growth factors (TGFβ1 and IGF-1), anion channel inhibitors, and chemicals that alter adenylyl cyclase and protein kinase C activities. Additional chondrocyte monolayers were infected with adenovirus containing functional (Ad-ANK) or mutated (Ad-ANK mutant) ANK sequences. eATP levels were measured with a bioluminescent assay.


TGFβ1 enhanced eATP accumulation by 33%, whereas IGF-1 decreased eATP accumulation by 63% and attenuated TGFβ1-induced eATP release by 72%. Forskolin and probenecid diminished eATP accumulation by 55% and 89%. Phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate increased eATP by 29%. Transfection of chondrocytes with Ad-ANK caused a 10-fold increase in eATP compared with control values.


Modulation of eATP by various factors paralleled their effects on ePPi production, suggesting a shared pathway of ePPi and eATP production and implicating ANK in eATP transport. As eATP directly contributes to pathologic mineralization in articular cartilage, understanding eATP regulation may lead to effective therapies for crystal-associated arthritis.

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