Research ArticlePhysiology

A molecular signature in the pannexin1 intracellular loop confers channel activation by the α1 adrenoreceptor in smooth muscle cells

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Sci. Signal.  17 Feb 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 364, pp. ra17
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005824

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Regulating blood pressure with ATP

Blood pressure is dynamically regulated to enable rapid responses to changes in position and physical or emotional stress, such as exercise or anger and fear. Many signals that activate G protein (heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide–binding protein)–coupled receptors (GPCRs) control vascular tone, including norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) released by the sympathetic nervous system, which increases blood pressure. Billaud et al. report that the α1 adrenoreceptor (α1AR)—but not the endothelin-1 or serotonin receptor, which are also Gαq-coupled GPCRs and stimulate vasoconstriction—is specifically coupled to activation of the ATP (adenosine 5′-triphosphate)–releasing channel pannexin1 (Panx1). Mice lacking Panx1 in smooth muscle cells were hypotensive, specifically during their active period of the day. Isolated arteries from these mice did not release ATP and contracted less in response to adrenoreceptor stimulation. Thus, ATP release through Panx1 channels specifically contributes to blood pressure regulation by the sympathetic nervous system.