- P2X receptors are a class of nonselective cation channels widely distributed in the immune and nervous systems, and their dysfunction is a significant cause of tumors, inflammation, leukemia, and immune diseases. P2X7 is a unique member of the P2X receptor family with many properties that differ from other subtypes in terms of primary sequence, the architecture of N- and C-terminals, and channel function. Here, we suggest that the observed lengthened β2- and β3-sheets and their linker (loop β2,3), encoded by redundant sequences, play an indispensable role in the activation of the P2X7 receptor.
- Highly conserved amino acids are generally anticipated to have similar functions across a protein superfamily, including that of the P2X ion channels, which are gated by extracellular ATP. However, whether and how these functions are conserved becomes less clear when neighboring amino acids are not conserved. Here, we investigate one such case, focused on the highly conserved residue from P2X4, E118 (rat P2X4 numbering, rP2X4), a P2X subtype associated with human neuropathic pain. When we compared the crystal structures of P2X4 with those of other P2X subtypes, including P2X3, P2X7, and AmP2X, we observed a slightly altered side-chain orientation of E118.
- Although the extracellular ATP-gated cation channel purinergic receptor P2X5 is widely expressed in heart, skeletal muscle, and immune and nervous systems in mammals, little is known about its functions and channel-gating activities. This lack of knowledge is due to P2X5’s weak ATP responses in several mammalian species, such as humans, rats, and mice. WT human P2X5 (hP2X5Δ328–349) does not respond to ATP, whereas a full-length variant, hP2X5 (hP2X5-FL), containing exon 10 encoding the second hP2X5 transmembrane domain (TM2), does.
- The degenerin/epithelial sodium channel (DEG/ENaC) superfamily of ion channels contains subfamilies with diverse functions that are fundamental to many physiological and pathological processes, ranging from synaptic transmission to epileptogenesis. The absence in mammals of some DEG/ENaCs subfamily orthologues such as FMRFamide peptide–activated sodium channels (FaNaCs), which have been identified only in mollusks, indicates that the various subfamilies diverged early in evolution. We recently reported that the nonproton agonist 2-guanidine-4-methylquinazoline (GMQ) activates acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), a DEG/ENaC subfamily mainly in mammals, in the absence of acidosis.
- P2X receptors are ATP-gated trimeric channels with important roles in diverse pathophysiological functions. A detailed understanding of the mechanism underlying the gating process of these receptors is thus fundamentally important and may open new therapeutic avenues. The left flipper (LF) domain of the P2X receptors is a flexible loop structure, and its coordinated motions together with the dorsal fin (DF) domain are crucial for the channel gating of the P2X receptors. However, the mechanism underlying the crucial role of the LF domain in the channel gating remains obscure.
- Significant progress has been made in understanding the roles of crucial residues/motifs in the channel function of P2X receptors during the pre-structure era. The recent structural determination of P2X receptors allows us to reevaluate the role of those residues/motifs. Residues Arg-309 and Asp-85 (rat P2X4 numbering) are highly conserved throughout the P2X family and were involved in loss-of-function polymorphism in human P2X receptors. Previous studies proposed that they participated in direct ATP binding.
- FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2)-activated sodium channel (FaNaC) is an amiloride-sensitive sodium channel activated by endogenous tetrapeptide in invertebrates, and belongs to the epithelial sodium channel/degenerin (ENaC/DEG) superfamily. The ENaC/DEG superfamily differs markedly in its means of activation, such as spontaneously opening or gating by mechanical stimuli or tissue acidosis. Recently, it has been observed that a number of ENaC/DEG channels can be activated by small molecules or peptides, indicating that the ligand-gating may be an important feature of this superfamily.