P2X receptors are non-selective cation channels operated by extracellular ATP. Currently, little is known concerning the functions of these receptors during development. Previous work from our lab has shown that zebrafish have two paralogs of the mammalian P2X3 receptor subunit. One paralog, p2rx3.1, is expressed in subpopulations of neural and ectodermal cells in the embryonic head. To investigate the role of this subunit in early cranial development, we utilized morpholino oligonucleotides to disrupt its translation. Loss of this subunit resulted in craniofacial defects that included malformation of the pharyngeal skeleton. During formation of these structures, there was a marked increase in cell death within the branchial arches. In addition, the epibranchial (facial, glossopharyngeal, and vagal) cranial sensory ganglia and their circuits were perturbed. These data suggest that p2rx3.1 function in ectodermal cells is involved in purinergic signaling essential for proper craniofacial development and sensory circuit formation in the embryonic and larval zebrafish.
- Sensory ganglia