P2 receptors: Intracellular signaling

Laurie Erb, Zhongji Liao, Cheikh I. Seye, Gary A. Weisman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


P2 receptors for extracellular nucleotides are divided into two categories: the ion channel receptors (P2X) and the G-protein-coupled receptors (P2Y). For the P2X receptors, signal transduction appears to be relatively simple. Upon activation by extracellular ATP, a channel comprised of P2X receptor subunits opens and allows cations to move across the plasma membrane, resulting in changes in the electrical potential of the cell that, in turn, propagates a signal. This regulated flux of ions across the plasma membrane has important signaling functions, especially in impulse propagation in the nervous system and in muscle contractility. In addition, P2X receptor activation causes the accumulation of calcium ions in the cytoplasm, which is responsible for activating numerous signaling molecules. For the P2Y receptors, signal transduction is more complex. Intracellular signaling cascades are the main routes of communication between G-protein-coupled receptors and regulatory targets within the cell. These signaling cascades operate mainly by the sequential activation or deactivation of heterotrimeric and monomeric G proteins, phospholipases, protein kinases, adenylyl and guanylyl cyclases, and phosphodiesterases that regulate many cellular processes, including proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, metabolism, secretion, and cell migration. In addition, there are numerous ion channels, cell adhesion molecules and receptor tyrosine kinases that are modulated by P2Y receptors and operate to transmit an extracellular signal to an intracellular response. These intracellular signaling pathways and their regulation by P2 receptors are discussed in this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-562
Number of pages11
JournalPflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • ATP receptors
  • G proteins
  • G-protein-coupled receptors
  • Ion channels
  • Purinergic receptors
  • Signal transduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)

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