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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 15;286(28):25363-76. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.232868. Epub 2011 May 25.

Regulation of purinergic signaling in biliary epithelial cells by exocytosis of SLC17A9-dependent ATP-enriched vesicles.

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Departments of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


ATP in bile is a potent secretogogue, stimulating biliary epithelial cell (BEC) secretion through binding apical purinergic receptors. In response to mechanosensitive stimuli, BECs release ATP into bile, although the cellular basis of ATP release is unknown. The aims of this study in human and mouse BECs were to determine whether ATP release occurs via exocytosis of ATP-enriched vesicles and to elucidate the potential role of the vesicular nucleotide transporter SLC17A9 in purinergic signaling. Dynamic, multiscale, live cell imaging (confocal and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy and a luminescence detection system with a high sensitivity charge-coupled device camera) was utilized to detect vesicular ATP release from cell populations, single cells, and the submembrane space of a single cell. In response to increases in cell volume, BECs release ATP, which was dependent on intact microtubules and vesicular trafficking pathways. ATP release occurred as stochastic point source bursts of luminescence consistent with exocytic events. Parallel studies identified ATP-enriched vesicles ranging in size from 0.4 to 1 μm that underwent fusion and release in response to increases in cell volume in a protein kinase C-dependent manner. Present in all models, SLC17A9 contributed to ATP vesicle formation and regulated ATP release. The findings are consistent with the existence of an SLC17A9-dependent ATP-enriched vesicular pool in biliary epithelium that undergoes regulated exocytosis to initiate purinergic signaling.

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