Expression of P2X2 and P2X3 receptor subunits in rat carotid body afferent neurones: role in chemosensory signalling
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1. Hypoxic chemotransmission in the rat carotid body (CB) is mediated in part by ATP acting on suramin-sensitive P2X purinoceptors. Here, we use RT-PCR, cloning and sequencing techniques to show P2X2 and P2X3 receptor expression in petrosal neurones, some of which develop functional chemosensory units with CB receptor clusters in co-culture. 2. Single-cell RT-PCR revealed that hypoxia-responsive neurones, identified electrophysiologically in co-culture, expressed both P2X2 and P2X3 mRNA. 3. Isohydric hypercapnia (10 % CO(2); pH 7.4) caused excitation of chemosensory units in co-culture. This excitation depended on chemical transmission, with ATP acting as a co-transmitter, since it was inhibited by reduction of the extracellular Ca(2+):Mg(2+) ratio and by the purinoceptor blocker suramin (50-100 microM). 4. Hypoxia and isohydric hypercapnia could separately excite the same chemosensory unit, and together the two stimuli interacted synergistically. 5. Using confocal immunofluorescence, co-localization of P2X2 and P2X3 protein was demonstrated in many petrosal somas and CB afferent terminals in situ. Taken together, these data indicate that ATP and P2X2-P2X3 purinoceptors play important roles in the peripheral control of respiration by carotid body chemoreceptors.