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Purinergic Signal. 2008 Jun;4(2):101-7. doi: 10.1007/s11302-007-9054-2. Epub 2007 Mar 14.

Purinergic signalling in the subretinal space: a role in the communication between the retina and the RPE.

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Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, 3700 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-6085, USA,


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is separated from the photoreceptor outer segments by the subretinal space. While the actual volume of this space is minimal, the communication that occurs across this microenvironment is important to the visual process, and accumulating evidence suggests the purines ATP and adenosine contribute to this communication. P1 and P2 receptors are localized to membranes on both the photoreceptor outer segments and on the apical membrane of the RPE which border subretinal space. ATP is released across the apical membrane of the RPE into this space in response to various triggers including glutamate and chemical ischemia. This ATP is dephosphorylated into adenosine by a series of ectoenzymes on the RPE apical membrane. Regulation of release and ectoenzyme activity in response to light-sensitive signals can alter the balance of purines in subretinal space, and thus coordinate communication across subretinal space with the visual process.

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