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Neurochem Res. 2012 Jun;37(6):1355-63. doi: 10.1007/s11064-012-0720-6. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Pannexin1-mediated ATP release provides signal transmission between Neuro2A cells.

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Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, K 840, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Pannexin1 (Panx1), a protein related to the gap junction proteins of invertebrates, forms nonjunctional channels that open upon depolarization and in response to mechanical stretch and purinergic receptor stimulation. Importantly, ATP can be released through Panx1 channels, providing a possible role for these channels in non-vesicular signal transmission. In this study we expressed exogenous human and mouse Panx1 in the gap junction deficient Neuro2A neuroblastoma cell line and explored the contribution of Panx1 channels to cell-cell communication as sites of ATP release. Electrophysiological (patch clamp) recordings from Panx1 transfected Neuro2A cells revealed membrane conductance that increased beyond 0 mV when applying voltage ramps from -60 to +100 mV; threshold was correlated with extracellular K+, so that at 10 mM K+, channels began to open at -30 mV. Evaluation of cell-cell communication using dual whole cell recordings from cell pairs revealed that activation of Panx1 current in one cell of the pair induced an inward current in the second cell after a latency of 10-20 s. This paracrine response was amplified by an ATPase inhibitor (ARL67156, 100 μM) and was blocked by the ATP-degrading enzyme apyrase (6.7 U/ml), by the P2 receptor antagonist suramin (50 μM) and by the Panx1 channel blocker carbenoxolone. These results provide additional evidence that ATP release through Panx1 channels can mediate nonsynaptic bidirectional intercellular communication. Furthermore, current potentiation by elevated K+ provides a mechanism for enhancement of ATP release under pathological conditions.

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