p38 MAPK mediates glial P2X7R-neuronal P2Y1R inhibitory control of P2X3R expression in dorsal root ganglion neurons

Yong Chen, Guangwen Li, Li Yen Mae Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: We have previously shown that endogenously active purinergic P2X7 receptors (P2X7Rs) in satellite glial cells of dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) stimulate ATP release. The ATP activates P2Y1Rs located in the enwrapped neuronal somata, resulting in down-regulation of P2X3Rs. This P2X7R-P2Y1-P2X3R inhibitory control significantly reduces P2X3R-mediated nociceptive responses. The underlying mechanism by which the activation of P2Y1Rs inhibits the expression of P2X3Rs remains unexplored. Results: Examining the effect of the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase on the expression of P2X3Rs in DRGs, we found that the p38 activator, anisomycin (Anis), reduced the expression of P2X3Rs. Blocking the activity of SGCs by the glial Krebs cycle inhibitor, fluorocitrate, did not change the effect of Anis. These results suggest that neuronal p38 plays a major role in the inhibition of P2X3R expression. Western blotting analyses showed that inhibiting P2Y1Rs by MRS2179 (MRS) or blocking P2X7Rs by either oxATP or A740003 reduced pp38 and increased P2X3R expression in DRGs. These results are further supported by the immunohistochemical study showing that P2X7R and P2Y1R antagonists reduce the percentage of pp38-positive neurons. These observations suggest that activation of P2X7Rs and P2Y1Rs promotes p38 activity to exert inhibitory control on P2X3R expression. Since activation of p38 by Anis in the presence of either A740003 or MRS could overcome the block of P2X7R-P2Y1R inhibitory control, p38 in DRG neurons is downstream of P2Y1Rs. In addition, inhibition of p38 by SB202190 was found to prevent the P2X7R and P2Y1R block of P2X3R expression and increase P2X3R-mediated nociceptive flinch behaviors. Conclusions: p38 in DRG neurons downstream of P2Y1R is necessary and sufficient for the P2X7R-P2Y1R inhibitory control of P2X3R expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number68
JournalMolecular pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 5 2015


  • Dorsal root ganglion
  • P2X3
  • P2X7
  • P2Y1
  • P38
  • Pain
  • Purinergic
  • Satellite glial cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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