NYMC Faculty Publications


Exciting and Not So Exciting Roles of Pannexins

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March 2019


Cell Biology and Anatomy


It is the current view that purinergic signaling regulates many physiological functions. Pannexin1 (Panx1), a member of the gap junction family of proteins is an ATP releasing channel that plays important physio-pathological roles in various tissues, including the CNS. Upon binding to purinergic receptors expressed in neural cells, ATP triggers cellular responses including increased cell proliferation, cell morphology changes, release of cytokines, and regulation of neuronal excitability via release of glutamate, GABA and ATP itself. Under pathological conditions such as ischemia, trauma, inflammation, and epilepsy, extracellular ATP concentrations increases drastically but the consequences of this surge is still difficult to characterize due to its rapid metabolism in ADP and adenosine, the latter having inhibitory action on neuronal activity. For seizures, for instance, the excitatory effect of ATP on neuronal activity is mainly related to its action of P2X receptors, while the inhibitory effects are related to activation of P1, adenosine receptors. Here we provide a mini review on the properties of pannexins with a main focus on Panx1 and its involvement in seizure activity. Although there are only few studies implicating Panx1 in seizures, they are illustrative of the dual role that Panx1 has on neuronal excitability.