The carbon monoxide donor, CORM-2, is an antagonist of ATP-gated, human P2X4 receptors
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- Wilkinson, W.J. & Kemp, P.J. Purinergic Signalling (2011) 7: 57. doi:10.1007/s11302-010-9213-8
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Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced endogenously by heme oxygenase (HO) enzymes. HO-1 is highly expressed in many inflammatory disease states, where it is broadly protective. The protective effects of HO-1 expression can be largely mimicked by the exogenous application of CO and CO-releasing molecules (CORMs). Despite a dearth of pharmacological tools for their study, molecular methodologies have identified P2X4 receptors as a potential anti-nociceptive drug target. P2X4 receptors are up-regulated in animal models of inflammatory pain, and their knock-down reduces pain behaviours. In these same animal models, HO-1 expression is anti-nociceptive, and we therefore investigated whether P2X4 was a target for CO and tricarbonyldichlororuthenium (II) dimer (CORM-2). Using conventional whole-cell and perforated-patch recordings of heterologously expressed human P2X4 receptors, we demonstrate that CORM-2, but not CO gas, is an inhibitor of these channels. We also investigated the role of soluble guanylate cyclase and mitochondria-derived reactive oxygen species using pharmacological inhibitors but found that they were largely unable to affect the ability of CORM-2 to inhibit P2X4 currents. A control breakdown product of CORM-2 was also without effect on P2X4. These results suggest that P2X4 receptors are not a molecular target of endogenous CO production and are, therefore, unlikely to be mediating the anti-nociceptive effects of HO-1 expression in inflammatory pain models. However, these results show that CORM-2 is an effective antagonist at human P2X4 receptors and represents a useful pharmacological tool for the study of these receptors given the current dearth of antagonists.