Functional P2X(7) Receptors in the Auditory Nerve of Hearing Rodents Localize Exclusively to Peripheral Glia.


Prades S(1), Heard G(1), Gale JE(1), Engel T(2), Kopp R(3), Nicke A(3), Smith KE(1), Jagger DJ(4).
Author information:
(1)UCL Ear Institute, University College London, London WC1X 8EE, United Kingdom.
(2)Department of Physiology & Medical Physics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin D02 YN77, Ireland.
(3)Walther Straub Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat München, 80336 Munich, Germany.
(4)UCL Ear Institute, University College London, London WC1X 8EE, United Kingdom [Email]


P2X7 receptors (P2X7Rs) are associated with numerous pathophysiological mechanisms, and this promotes them as therapeutic targets for certain neurodegenerative conditions. However, the identity of P2X7R-expressing cells in the nervous system remains contentious. Here, we examined P2X7R functionality in auditory nerve cells from rodents of either sex, and determined their functional and anatomic expression pattern. In whole-cell recordings from rat spiral ganglion cultures, the purinergic agonist 2',3'-O-(4-benzoylbenzoyl)-ATP (BzATP) activated desensitizing currents in spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) but non-desensitizing currents in glia that were blocked by P2X7R-specific antagonists. In imaging experiments, BzATP gated sustained Ca2+ entry into glial cells. BzATP-gated uptake of the fluorescent dye YO-PRO-1 was reduced and slowed by P2X7R-specific antagonists. In rats, P2X7Rs were immuno-localized predominantly within satellite glial cells (SGCs) and Schwann cells (SCs). P2X7R expression was not detected in the portion of the auditory nerve within the central nervous system. Mouse models allowed further exploration of the distribution of cochlear P2X7Rs. In GENSAT reporter mice, EGFP expression driven via the P2rx7 promoter was evident in SGCs and SCs but was undetectable in SGNs. A second transgenic model showed a comparable cellular distribution of EGFP-tagged P2X7Rs. In wild-type mice the discrete glial expression was confirmed using a P2X7-specific nanobody construct. Our study shows that P2X7Rs are expressed by peripheral glial cells, rather than by afferent neurons. Description of functional signatures and cellular distributions of these enigmatic proteins in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) will help our understanding of ATP-dependent effects contributing to hearing loss and other sensory neuropathies.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT P2X7 receptors (P2X7Rs) have been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years. They have been promoted as therapeutic targets in a number of diseases of the nervous system, yet the specific cellular location of these receptors remains the subject of intense debate. In the auditory nerve, connecting the inner ear to the brainstem, we show these multimodal ATP-gated channels localize exclusively to peripheral glial cells rather than the sensory neurons, and are not evident in central glia. Physiologic responses in the peripheral glia display classical hallmarks of P2X7R activation, including the formation of ion-permeable and also macromolecule-permeable pores. These qualities suggest these proteins could contribute to glial-mediated inflammatory processes in the auditory periphery under pathologic disease states.