PHYSIOLOGY: Regulation of breathing by CO2 requires the proton-activated receptor GPR4 in retrotrapezoid nucleus neurons

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Abstract

Blood gas and tissue pH regulation depend on the ability of the brain to sense CO2 and/or H+ and alter breathing appropriately, a homeostatic process called central respiratory chemosensitivity. We show that selective expression of the proton-activated receptor GPR4 in chemosensory neurons of the mouse retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN) is required for CO2-stimulated breathing. Genetic deletion of GPR4 disrupted acidosis-dependent activation of RTN neurons, increased apnea frequency, and blunted ventilatory responses to CO2. Reintroduction of GPR4 into RTN neurons restored CO2-dependent RTN neuronal activation and rescued the ventilatory phenotype. Additional elimination of TASK-2 (K2P5), a pH-sensitive K+ channel expressed in RTN neurons, essentially abolished the ventilatory response to CO2. The data identify GPR4 and TASK-2 as distinct, parallel, and essential central mediators of respiratory chemosensitivity.

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