Differential crosstalk between P2X7 and arachidonic acid in activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases

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Accumulating evidence indicates that astroglial syncytium plays key role in normal and pathological brain functions. Astrocytes both in vitro and in situ respond to extracellular adenine-based nucleotides via the activation of P2 receptors. Massive release of ATP from neurons and glial cells occurs as a result of pathological conditions of the brain leading to neuroinflammation and involving P2X7 receptors. In this study, we investigated whether P2X7 stimulation on cultured cortical astrocytes promoted a differential activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and whether the second messenger arachidonic acid (AA), which is also a key modulator of neuroinflammation, affected the P2X7-mediated MAPK phosphorylation. The results show that the synthetic P2X7 receptor agonist 2′,3′-O-(4-benzoyl)benzoyl-ATP (BzATP), induced a concentration-dependent phosphorylation of MAPK ERK1/2, JNK and p38. Stimulation of ERK1/2, JNK and p38 phosphorylation was also obtained by pathophysiological levels of extracellularly applied AA. Interestingly, a robust potentiation of ERK1/2 phosphorylation was elicited by co-application of BzATP and AA, whereas no differences were observed in JNK or p38 phosphosignals. The kinases activation showed a differential dependence on the presence of extracellular Ca2+. The potentiation of BzATP-mediated ERK1/2 phosphorylation was also observed in human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293) stably transfected with rat P2X7, but not in HEK cells expressing truncated P2X7 receptor lacking the full cytoplasmic carboxy-terminal or in those carrying the structurally related rat P2X2. AA and BzATP synergism in ERK1/2 activation was abolished by cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase pathway inhibitors.

The result that ERK1/2-mediated transduction pathway is synergistically modulated by ATP and AA signalling depicts possible novel pharmacological targets for interfering with pathological activation of astroglial cells.

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