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Neuroscience. 2003;121(4):935-45.

Molecular characterization of the zebrafish P2X receptor subunit gene family.

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Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Science, St. Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA.


P2X receptors are non-selective cation channels gated by extracellular ATP and are encoded by a family of seven subunit genes in mammals. These receptors exhibit high permeabilities to calcium and in the mammalian nervous system they have been linked to modulation of neurotransmitter release. Previously, three complementary DNAs (cDNAs) encoding members of the zebrafish gene family have been described. We report here the cloning and characterization of an additional six genes of this family. Sequence analysis of all nine genes suggests that six are orthologs of mammalian genes, two are paralogs of previously described zebrafish subunits, and one remains unclassified. All nine subunits were physically mapped onto the zebrafish genome using radiation hybrid analysis. Of the nine gene products, seven give functional homo-oligomeric receptors when recombinantly expressed in human embryonic kidney cell line 293 cells. In addition, these subunits can form hetero-oligomeric receptors with phenotypes distinct from the parent subunits. Analysis of gene expression patterns was carried out using in situ hybridization, and seven of the nine genes were found to be expressed in embryos at 24 and 48 h post-fertilization. Of the seven that were expressed, six were present in the nervous system and four of these demonstrated considerable overlap in cells present in the sensory nervous system. These results suggest that P2X receptors might play a role in the early development and/or function of the sensory nervous system in vertebrates.

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