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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 May 2020 - 22 May 2020

Animal Studies

2020 May 19

Sci Rep



Drosophila taste neurons as an agonist-screening platform for P2X receptors.


Grimes L, Griffiths J, Pasqualetto G, Brancale A, Kemp PJ, Young MT, van der Goes van Naters W
Sci Rep. 2020 May 19; 10(1):8292.
PMID: 32427920.


The P2X receptor family of ATP-gated cation channels are attractive drug targets for pain and inflammatory disease, but no subtype-selective agonists, and few partially selective agonists have been described to date. As proof-of-concept for the discovery of novel P2X receptor agonists, here we demonstrate the use of Drosophila taste neurons heterologously expressing rat P2X2 receptors as a screening platform. We demonstrate that wild-type rat P2X2 expressed in Drosophila is fully functional (ATP EC 8.7 µM), and that screening of small (2 µl) volumes of a library of 80 adenosine nucleotide analogues is rapid and straightforward. We have determined agonist potency and specificity profiles for rat P2X2 receptors; triphosphate-bearing analogues display broad activity, tolerating a number of substitutions, and diphosphate and monophosphate analogues display very little activity. While several ATP analogues gave responses of similar magnitude to ATP, including the previously identified agonists ATPγS and ATPαS, we were also able to identify a novel agonist, the synthetic analogue 2-fluoro-ATP, and to confirm its agonist activity on rat P2X2 receptors expressed in human cells. These data validate our Drosophila platform as a useful tool for the analysis of agonist structure-activity relationships, and for the screening and discovery of novel P2X receptor agonists.