Mechanisms of ATP release by human trabecular meshwork cells, the enabling step in purinergic regulation of aqueous humor outflow

Ang Li, Chi Ting Leung, Kim Peterson-Yantorno, W. Daniel Stamer, Claire H. Mitchell, Mortimer M. Civan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Our guiding hypothesis is that ecto-enzymatic conversion of extracellular ATP to adenosine activates A 1 adenosine receptors, reducing resistance to aqueous humor outflow and intraocular pressure. The initial step in this purinergic regulation is ATP release from outflow-pathway cells by mechanisms unknown. We measured similar ATP release from human explant-derived primary trabecular meshwork (TM) cells (HTM) and a human TM cell line (TM5). Responses to 21 inhibitors indicated that pannexin-1 (PX1) and connexin (Cx) hemichannels and P2X 7 receptors (P2RX 7) were comparably important in modulating ATP release induced by hypotonic swelling, whereas vesicular release was insignificant. Consistent with prior studies of PX1 activity in certain other cells, ATP release was lowered by the reducing agent dithiothreitol. Overexpressing PX1 in HEK293T cells promoted, while partial knockdown (KD) in both HEK293T and TM5 cells inhibited hypotonicity-activated ATP release. Additionally, KD reduced the pharmacologically defined contribution of PX1 and enhanced those of Cx and P2RX 7. ATP release was also triggered by raising intracellular Ca 2+ activity with ionomycin after a prolonged lag time and was unaffected by the PX1 blocker probenecid, but nearly abolished by P2RX 7 antagonists. We conclude that swelling-stimulated ATP release from human TM cells is physiologically mediated by PX1 and Cx hemichannels and P2X 7 receptors, but not by vesicular release. PX1 appears not to be stimulated by intracellular Ca 2+ in TM cells, but can be modulated by oxidation-reduction state. The P2RX 7-dependent component of swelling-activated release may be mediated by PX1 hemichannels or reflect apoptotic magnification of ATP release, either through itself and/or hemichannels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-182
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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