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Open Access Review

Implications of purinergic receptor-mediated intracellular calcium transients in neural differentiation

Talita Glaser1, Rodrigo R Resende2 and Henning Ulrich1*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Professor Lineu Prestes, 748, São Paulo, CEP 05508-900, Brazil

2 Departamento de Bioquímica e Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2013, 11:12  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-11-12

Published: 17 February 2013

Abstract

Purinergic receptors participate, in almost every cell type, in controlling metabolic activities and many physiological functions including signal transmission, proliferation and differentiation. While most of P2Y receptors induce transient elevations of intracellular calcium concentration by activation of intracellular calcium pools and forward these signals as waves which can also be transmitted into neighboring cells, P2X receptors produce calcium spikes which also include activation of voltage-operating calcium channels. P2Y and P2X receptors induce calcium transients that activate transcription factors responsible for the progress of differentiation through mediators including calmodulin and calcineurin. Expression of P2X2 as well as of P2X7 receptors increases in differentiating neurons and glial cells, respectively. Gene expression silencing assays indicate that these receptors are important for the progress of differentiation and neuronal or glial fate determination. Metabotropic receptors, mostly P2Y1 and P2Y2 subtypes, act on embryonic cells or cells at the neural progenitor stage by inducing proliferation as well as by regulation of neural differentiation through NFAT translocation. The scope of this review is to discuss the roles of purinergic receptor-induced calcium spike and wave activity and its codification in neurodevelopmental and neurodifferentiation processes.

Keywords:
Purinergic receptors; Intracellular calcium transients; Neural differentiation; Neural fate specification