Astrocytes express surface channels involved in purinergic signaling. Among these channels, pannexin-1 (Px1) and connexin-43 (Cx43) hemichannels (HCs) release ATP that acts directly, or through its derivatives, on neurons and glia via purinergic receptors. Although HCs are functional, that is, open and close under physiological and pathological conditions, single channel properties of Px1 HCs in astrocytes have not been defined. Here, we developed a dual voltage clamp technique in HeLa cells expressing human Px1-YFP, and then applied this system to rodent spinal astrocytes to compare their single channel properties with other surface channels, that is, Cx43 HCs and P2X7 receptors (P2X7Rs). Channels were recorded in cell attached patches and evoked with ramp cycles applied through another pipette in whole cell voltage clamp. The mean unitary conductances of Px1 HCs were comparable in HeLa Px1-YFP cells and spinal astrocytes, ~42 and ~48 pS, respectively. Based on their unitary conductance, voltage-dependence, and unitary activity after pharmacological and gene silencing, Px1 HCs in astrocytes could be distinguished from Cx43 HCs and P2X7Rs. Channel activity of Px1 HCs and P2X7Rs was greater than that of Cx43 HCs in control astrocytes during ramps. Unitary activity of Px1 HCs was decreased and that of Cx43 HCs and P2X7Rs increased in astrocytes treated with fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF-1). In summary, we resolved single channel properties of three different surface channels involved in purinergic signaling in spinal astrocytes, which were differentially modulated by FGF-1, a growth factor involved in neurodevelopment, inflammation and repair.
- purinergic receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience