Characterization of ATP-induced cell death in the GL261 mouse glioma

J Cell Biochem. 2010 Apr 1;109(5):983-91. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22478.


Gliomas have one of the worst prognosis among cancers. Their resistance to cell death induced by endogenous neurotoxic agents, such as extracellular ATP, seems to play an important role in their pathobiology since alterations in the degradation rate of extracellular ATP drastically affects glioma growth in rats. In the present work we characterized the mechanisms of cell death induced by extracellular ATP in a murine glioma cell line, GL261. ATP and BzATP, a P2X7 agonist, induced cell death at concentrations that are described to activate the P2X7 receptor in mouse. oATP, an antagonist of P2X7, blocked the ATP-induced cell death. Agonists of purinergic receptors expressed in GL261 such as adenosine, ADP, UTP did not cause any cell death, even at mM concentrations. A sub-population of cells more sensitive to ATP expressed more P2X7 when compared to a less sensitive subpopulation. Accordingly, RNA interference of the P2X7 receptor drastically reduced ATP-induced cell death, suggesting that this receptor is necessary for this effect. The mechanism of ATP-induced cell death is predominantly necrotic, since cells presented shrinkage accompanied by membrane permeabilization, but not apoptotic, since no phosphatidylserine externalization or caspase activity was observed. These data show the importance of P2X7 in ATP-induced cell death and shed light on the importance of ATP-induced cell death in glioma development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Silencing / drug effects
  • Glioma / genetics
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Necrosis / pathology
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7


  • P2rx7 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7
  • Adenosine Triphosphate