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Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 May 15;42(10):1506-16. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Nucleotide receptor signaling in murine macrophages is linked to reactive oxygen species generation.

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Department of Biomolecular Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Program, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Macrophage activation is critical in the innate immune response and can be regulated by the nucleotide receptor P2X7. In this regard, P2X7 signaling is not well understood but has been implicated in controlling reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation by various leukocytes. Although ROS can contribute to microbial killing, the role of ROS in nucleotide-mediated cell signaling is unclear. In this study, we report that the P2X7 agonists ATP and 3'-O-(4-benzoyl) benzoic ATP (BzATP) stimulate ROS production by RAW 264.7 murine macrophages. These effects are potentiated in lipopolysaccharide-primed cells, demonstrating an important interaction between extracellular nucleotides and microbial products in ROS generation. In terms of nucleotide receptor specificity, RAW 264.7 macrophages that are deficient in P2X7 are greatly reduced in their capacity to generate ROS in response to BzATP treatment (both with and without LPS priming), thus supporting a role for P2X7 in this process. Because MAP kinase activation is key for nucleotide regulation of macrophage function, we also tested the hypothesis that P2X7-mediated MAP kinase activation is dependent on ROS production. We observed that BzATP stimulates MAP kinase (ERK1/ERK2, p38, and JNK1/JNK2) phosphorylation and that the antioxidants N-acetylcysteine and ascorbic acid strongly attenuate BzATP-mediated JNK1/JNK2 and p38 phosphorylation but only slightly reduce BzATP-induced ERK1/ERK2 phosphorylation. These studies reveal that P2X7 can contribute to macrophage ROS production, that this effect is potentiated upon lipopolysaccharide exposure, and that ROS are important participants in the extracellular nucleotide-mediated activation of several MAP kinase systems.

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