Mammalian P2X7 receptor pharmacology: comparison of recombinant mouse, rat and human P2X7 receptors

Br J Pharmacol. 2009 Aug;157(7):1203-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2009.00233.x. Epub 2009 Jun 22.


Background and purpose: Acute activation of P2X7 receptors rapidly opens a non-selective cation channel. Sustained P2X7 receptor activation leads to the formation of cytolytic pores, mediated by downstream recruitment of hemichannels to the cell surface. Species- and single-nucleotide polymorphism-mediated differences in P2X7 receptor activation have been reported that complicate understanding of the physiological role of P2X7 receptors. Studies were conducted to determine pharmacological differences between human, rat and mouse P2X7 receptors.

Experimental approach: Receptor-mediated changes in calcium influx and Yo-Pro uptake were compared between recombinant mouse, rat and human P2X7 receptors. For mouse P2X7 receptors, wild-type (BALB/c) and a reported loss of function (C57BL/6) P2X7 receptor were also compared.

Key results: BzATP [2,3-O-(4-benzoylbenzoyl)-ATP] was more potent than ATP in stimulating calcium influx and Yo-Pro uptake at rat, human, BALB/c and C57BL/6 mouse P2X7 receptors. Two selective P2X7 receptor antagonists, A-740003 and A-438079, potently blocked P2X7 receptor activation across mammalian species. Several reported P2X1 receptor antagonists [e.g. MRS 2159 (4-[(4-formyl-5-hydroxy-6-methyl-3-[(phosphonooxy)methyl}-2-pyridinyl)azo]-benzoic acid), PPNDS and NF279] blocked P2X7 receptors. NF279 fully blocked human P2X7 receptors, but only partially blocked BALB/c P2X7 receptors and was inactive at C57BL/6 P2X7 receptors.

Conclusions and implications: These data provide new insights into P2X7 receptor antagonist pharmacology across mammalian species. P2X7 receptor pharmacology in a widely used knockout background mouse strain (C57BL/6) was similar to wild-type mouse P2X7 receptors. Several structurally novel, selective and competitive P2X7 receptor antagonists show less species differences compared with earlier non-selective antagonists.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytoma
  • Benzoxazoles
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Purinergic P2 Receptor Agonists*
  • Purinergic P2 Receptor Antagonists*
  • Quinolinium Compounds
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7
  • Species Specificity


  • Benzoxazoles
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • P2RX7 protein, human
  • P2rx7 protein, mouse
  • P2rx7 protein, rat
  • Purinergic P2 Receptor Agonists
  • Purinergic P2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Quinolinium Compounds
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7
  • YO-PRO 1
  • Calcium