P2X7 receptors (P2X7Rs) are nonselective cation channels that are opened by the binding of extracellular ATP and are involved in the modulation of epithelial secretion, inflammation and nociception. Here, we investigated the effect of extracellular anions on channel gating and permeation of human P2X7Rs (hP2X7Rs) expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Two-microelectrode voltage-clamp recordings showed that ATP-induced hP2X7R-mediated currents increased when extracellular chloride was substituted by the organic anions glutamate or aspartate and decreased when chloride was replaced by the inorganic anions nitrate, sulfate or iodide. ATP concentration-response comparisons revealed that substitution of chloride by glutamate decreased agonist efficacy, while substitution by iodide increased agonist efficacy at high ATP concentrations. Meanwhile, the ATP potency remained unchanged. Activation of the hP2X7R at low ATP concentrations via the high-affinity ATP effector site was not affected by the replacement of chloride by glutamate or iodide. To analyze the anion effect on the hP2X7R at the single-molecule level, we performed single-channel current measurements using the patch-clamp technique in the outside-out configuration. Chloride substitution did not affect the single-channel conductance, but the probability that the P2X7R channel was open increased when chloride was replaced by glutamate and decreased when chloride was replaced by iodide. This effect was due to an influence of the anions on the mean closed times of the hP2X7R channel. We conclude that hP2X7R channels are not anion-permeable in physiological Na+-based media and that external anions allosterically affect ion channel opening in the fully ATP4-liganded P2X7R through an extracellular anion binding site.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.