A glutamate to alanine exchange at amino acid position 496 of the human P2X(7) receptor was recently shown to be associated with a loss of function in human B lymphocytes in terms of ATP-induced ethidium(+) uptake, Ba(2+) influx, and induction of apoptosis (Gu BJ, Zhang WY, Worthington RA, Sluyter R, Dao-Ung P, Petrou S, Barden JA, and Wiley JS. J Biol Chem 276: 11135-11142, 2001). Here we analyzed the effect of the Glu(496) to Ala exchange on the channel properties of the human P2X(7) receptor expressed in Xenopus oocytes with the two-microelectrode voltage-clamp technique. The amplitudes of ATP-induced whole cell currents characteristic of functional expression, kinetic properties including ATP concentration dependence, and permeation behavior were not altered by this amino acid exchange. Also in HEK293 cells, the Ala(496) mutant mediated typical P2X(7) receptor-dependent currents like the parent Glu(496) hP2X(7) receptor. Because the function of the P2X(7) receptor as an ATP-gated channel for small cations including Ba(2+) remained unaffected by this mutation, we conclude that Glu(496) plays a critical role in pore formation but does not determine the ion channel properties of the human P2X(7) receptor.