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Key Sites for P2X Receptor Function and Multimerization: Overview of Mutagenesis Studies on a Structural Basis

[ Vol. 22 , Issue. 7 ]


Ralf Hausmann, Achim Kless and Gunther Schmalzing   Pages 799 - 818 ( 20 )


P2X receptors constitute a seven-member family (P2X1-7) of extracellular ATP-gated cation channels of widespread expression. Because P2X receptors have been implicated in neurological, inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, they constitute promising drug targets. Since the first P2X cDNA sequences became available in 1994, numerous site-directed mutagenesis studies have been conducted to disclose key sites of P2X receptor function and oligomerization. The publication of the 3-A crystal structures of the zebrafish P2X4 (zfP2X4) receptor in the homotrimeric apo-closed and ATP-bound open states in 2009 and 2012, respectively, has ushered a new era by allowing for the interpretation of the wealth of molecular data in terms of specific three-dimensional models and by paving the way for designing more-decisive experiments. Thanks to these structures, the last five years have provided invaluable insight into our understanding of the structure and function of the P2X receptor class of ligandgated ion channels. In this review, we provide an overview of mutagenesis studies of the pre- and post-crystal structure eras that identified amino acid residues of key importance for ligand binding, channel gating, ion flow, formation of the pore and the channel gate, and desensitization. In addition, the sites that are involved in the trimerization of P2X receptors are reviewed based on mutagenesis studies and interface contacts that were predicted by the zfP2X4 crystal structures.


mutational P2X receptor analysis, P2X assembly domains, P2X ATP binding pocket, P2X quaternary structure, P2X receptor function.


Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Medical Faculty of the RWTH Aachen University, Wendlingweg 2, D-52074 Aachen, Germany.

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