Activating P2X7 Receptors Increases Proliferation of Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells via ERK1/2 and JNK

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The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the activated P2X7 receptors on the proliferation and growth of human pancreatic cancer cells.


Proliferation was measured by incorporating bromodeoxyuridine into pancreatic cancer cells, MIA PaCa-2 and HPAC. Expression of P2 receptors and signal molecules was examined using quantitative reverse transcription/polymerase chain reaction and/or Western blot. Proliferative effects of the P2X7 receptors in vivo were examined using a xenotransplant model of pancreatic cancer cell lines.


Incubating pancreatic cancer cells with adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and 2′(3′)-O-(4-Benzoylbenzoyl)ATP resulted in a dose-dependent increase of cell proliferation. The P2 receptor antagonist, KN-62, and small interfering RNA against P2X7 receptors, significantly decreased the proliferative effects of ATP. The ATP-induced proliferation was mediated by protein kinase C, extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK); specifically, ATP increased the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and JNK. The expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase was decreased by P2X7 receptor activation. In a xenotransplant model, applying ATP significantly increased the growth of induced tumors.


The P2X7 receptor activation by extracellular nucleotides increased proliferation and growth of human pancreatic cancer cells via ERK1/2 and JNK. This supports the pathophysiological role of P2X7 receptors in pancreatic disease and recovery.

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