Regulation of P2X7 nucleotide receptor function in human monocytes by extracellular ions and receptor density

Lalitha Gudipaty, Benjamin D. Humphreys, Gary Buell, George R. Dubyak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


P2X receptors function as ATP-gated cation channels. The P2X7 receptor subtype is distinguished from other P2X family members by a very low affinity for extracellular ATP (millimolar EC50) and its ability to trigger induction of nonselective pores on repeated or prolonged stimulation. Previous studies have indicated that certain P2X7 receptor-positive cell types, such as human blood monocytes and murine thymocytes, lack this pore-forming response. In the present study we compared pore formation in response to P2X7 receptor activation in human blood monocytes with that in macrophages derived from these monocytes by in vitro tissue culture. ATP induced nonselective pores in macrophages but not in freshly isolated monocytes when both cell types were identically stimulated in standard NaCl-based salines. However, ion substitution studies revealed that replacement of extracellular Na+ and Cl- with K+ and nonhalide anions strongly facilitated ATP-dependent pore formation in monocytes. These ionic conditions also resulted in increased agonist affinity, such that 30-100 μM ATP was sufficient for activation of nonselective pores by P2X7 receptors. Comparison of P2X7 receptor expression in blood monocytes with that in macrophages indicated no differences in steady-state receptor mRNA levels but significant increases (up to 10-fold) in the amount of immunoreactive P2X7 receptor protein at the cell surface of macrophages. Thus ability of ATP to activate nonselective pores in cells that natively express P2X7 receptors can be modulated by receptor subunit density at the cell surface and ambient levels of extracellular Na+ and Cl-. These mechanisms may prevent adventitious P2X7 receptor activation in monocytes until these proinflammatory leukocytes migrate to extravascular sites of tissue damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C943-C953
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number4 49-4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Extracellular ATP
  • Inflammation
  • Ligand-gated ion channel
  • Macrophage


Dive into the research topics of 'Regulation of P2X7 nucleotide receptor function in human monocytes by extracellular ions and receptor density'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this