Immunohistochemical study of the P2X2 and P2X3 receptor subunits in rat and monkey sensory neurons and their central terminals

Neuropharmacology. 1997 Sep;36(9):1229-42. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3908(97)00126-3.


Of the cloned P2X receptor subunits, six are expressed in sensory neurons, suggesting that the native channels may be heteromultimers with diverse composition. It has been proposed that P2X2 and P2X3 form heteromultimers in sensory neurons. We further tested this hypothesis by examining the relationship of P2X2 and P2X3 immunocytochemically. In rat dorsal root and nodose ganglia, P2X2- and P2X3-immunoreactivity (-ir) were highly colocalized, although single-labeled cells were also present. In dorsal root ganglia (DRG), in some cases P2X2-ir appeared to be present in satellite cells. In dorsal horn of spinal cord, at low magnification the laminar localization of P2X2- and P2X3-ir overlapped, but at high magnification colocalization was rarely observed. In contrast, in the solitary tract and its nucleus (NTS), colocalization of P2X2- and P2X3-ir was seen at low and high magnification. These results suggest that the relationship of P2X2- and P2X3-ir is different in nodose and dorsal root ganglia and might reflect differences in the targeting of P2X receptors in different sensory neurons. In monkey, P2X2-ir was observed in DRG neurons and satellite cells and in dorsal horn of spinal cord. P2X3-ir was also seen in DRG neurons. However, the presence of P2X2-ir in NTS as well as the presence of P2X3-ir in spinal cord and NTS could not be established definitively. These results suggest species differences, although a more extensive study of primate sensory systems is necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Stem / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Ganglia, Spinal / chemistry
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / embryology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nerve Endings / chemistry*
  • Neurons, Afferent / chemistry*
  • Nodose Ganglion / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2 / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X3
  • Spinal Cord / chemistry
  • Transfection


  • P2RX2 protein, human
  • P2RX3 protein, human
  • P2rx2 protein, rat
  • P2rx3 protein, rat
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X3