Editors' ChoiceTranscription

Nuclear ATP-Gated Channel

STKE  12 Nov 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 158, pp. tw424
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.158.tw424

The P2X7 receptor binds adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and conducts calcium ions. P2X7 receptors are localized in nerve terminals in the mammalian hippocampus where they presumably detect extracellular ATP. Atkinson et al. report that the channels are also present in the nuclear envelope of neurons in the rat hippocampus with the ATP-binding region facing the cytoplasm. The function of the channels remains to be explored, but given that changes in nuclear calcium concentrations control rates of transcription of certain genes, one can imagine that the channels could couple changes in gene expression to changes in the concentration of ATP in the cytoplasm.

L. Atkinson, C. J. Milligan, N. J. Buckley, J. Deuchars, An ATP-gated ion channel at the cell nucleus. Nature 420, 42 (2002). [Online Journal]