We have investigated responses to extracellular ATP (ATPe) in the microglial cell lines N9 and N13 and in freshly isolated mouse microglial cells. Upon stimulation with this nucleotide, N9 and N13 cells underwent an increase in the cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), a sustained depolarization of the plasma membrane, and an uptake of extracellular markers such as ethidium bromide and lucifer yellow; increases in plasma membrane permeability were paralleled by striking morphologic changes. ATPe, as well as other nucleotides, activated a spiking Ca2+ release from intracellular stores; however, only ATPe was also able to cause a massive transmembrane Ca2+ influx. The ATP analogue 2'- and 3'-O-(4-benzoylbenzoyl)-ATP (BzATP) triggered a sustained Ca2+ influx accompanied by little release from stores. The ATP derivative oxidized ATP (oATP) strongly inhibited Ca2+ influx, minimally affecting Ca2+ release. From ATPe-sensitive microglial cell lines, we selected several ATPe-resistant clones that showed complete lack of ATPe-mediated plasma membrane permeability changes, although they retained the Ca2+ mobilization response from intracellular stores. ATPe-dependent plasma membrane permeability changes were also greatly reduced in growth-arrested microglial cells. Finally, ATPe triggered IL-1 beta release from wild-type but not ATPe-resistant microglial cells. These results show that microglial cells express at least two purinergic receptor subtypes, metabotropic (P2Y) and ionotropic (P2Z), and that the latter is modulated during cell cycle and coupled to IL-1 beta release.

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