P2X(7) is a scavenger receptor for apoptotic cells in the absence of its ligand, extracellular ATP.

Article Details


Gu BJ, Saunders BM, Petrou S, Wiley JS

P2X(7) is a scavenger receptor for apoptotic cells in the absence of its ligand, extracellular ATP.

J Immunol. 2011 Sep 1;187(5):2365-75. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1101178. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

PubMed ID
21821797 [ View in PubMed

Phagocytosis of apoptotic cells is essential during development and tissue remodeling. Our previous study has shown that the P2X(7) receptor regulates phagocytosis of nonopsonized particles and bacteria. In this study, we demonstrate that P2X(7) also mediates phagocytosis of apoptotic lymphocytes and neuronal cells by human monocyte-derived macrophages under serum-free conditions. ATP inhibited this process to a similar extent as observed with cytochalasin D. P2X(7)-transfected HEK-293 cells acquired the ability to phagocytose apoptotic lymphocytes. Injection of apoptotic thymocytes into the peritoneal cavity of wild-type mice resulted in their phagocytosis by macrophages, but injection of ATP prior to thymocytes markedly decreased this uptake. In contrast, ATP failed to inhibit phagocytosis of apoptotic thymocytes in vivo by P2X(7)-deficient peritoneal macrophages. The surface expression of P2X(7) on phagocytes increased significantly during phagocytosis of either beads or apoptotic cells. A peptide screen library containing 24 biotin-conjugated peptides mimicking the extracellular domain of P2X(7) was used to evaluate the binding profile to beads, bacteria, and apoptotic cells. One peptide showed binding to all particles and cell membrane lipids. Three other cysteine-containing peptides uniquely bound the surface of apoptotic cells but not viable cells, whereas substitution of alanine for cysteine abolished peptide binding. Several thiol-reactive compounds including N-acetyl-L-cysteine abolished phagocytosis of apoptotic SH-SY5Y cells by macrophages. These data suggest that the P2X(7) receptor in its unactivated state acts like a scavenger receptor, and its extracellular disulphide bonds play an important role in direct recognition and engulfment of apoptotic cells.

DrugBank Data that Cites this Article

NameUniProt ID
P2X purinoceptor 7Q99572Details