P2X7 is the largest member of the P2X subfamily of purinergic receptors. A typical feature is the carboxyl tail, which allows formation of a large pore. Recently a naturally occurring truncated P2X7 splice variant, isoform B (P2X7B), has been identified. Here we show that P2X7B expression in HEK293 cells, a cell type lacking endogenous P2X receptors, mediated ATP-stimulated channel activity but not plasma membrane permeabilization, raised endoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) content, activated the transcription factor NFATc1, increased the cellular ATP content, and stimulated growth. In addition, P2X7B-transfected HEK293 cells (HEK293-P2X7B), like most tumor cells, showed strong soft agar-infiltrating ability. When coexpressed with full-length P2X7 (P2X7A), P2X7B coassembled with P2X7A into a heterotrimer and potentiated all known responses mediated by this latter receptor. P2X7B mRNA was found to be widely distributed in human tissues, especially in the immune and nervous systems, and to a much higher level than P2X7A. Finally, P2X7B expression was increased on mitogenic stimulation of peripheral blood lymphocyte. Altogether, these data show that P2X7B is widely expressed in several human tissues, modulates P2X7A functions, participates in the control of cell growth, and may help understand the role of the P2X7 receptor in the control of normal and cancer cell proliferation.