Metabotropic purinergic receptors in lipid membrane microdomains

N. D'Ambrosi, C. Volonté

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


There is broad evidence that association of transmembrane receptors and signalling molecules with lipid rafts/caveolae provides an enriched environment for protein-protein interactions necessary for signal transduction, and a mechanism for the modulation of neurotransmitter and/or growth factor receptor function. Several receptors translocate into submembrane compartments after ligand binding, while others move in the opposite direction. The role of such a dynamic localization and functional facilitation is signalling modulation and receptor desensitization or internalization. Purine and pyrimidine nucleotides have been viewed as primordial precursors in the evolution of all forms of intercellular communication, and they are now regarded as fundamental extracellular signalling molecules. They propagate the purinergic signalling by binding to ionotropic and metabotropic receptors expressed on the plasma membrane of almost all cell types, tissues and organs. Here, we have illustrated the localization in lipid rafts/caveolae of G protein-coupled P1 receptors for adenosine and P2Y receptors for nucleoside tri- and di-phosphates. We have highlighted that microdomain partitioning of these purinergic GPCRs is cell-specific, as is the overall expression levels of these same receptors. Moreover, we have described that disruption of submembrane compartments can shift the purinergic receptors from raft/caveolar to non-raft/non-caveolar fractions, and then abolish their ability to activate lipid signalling pathways and to integrate with additional lipid-controlled signalling events. This modulates the biological response to purinergic ligands and most of all indicates that the topology of the various purinergic components at the cell surface not only organizes the signal transduction machinery, but also controls the final cellular response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-63
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Adenosine, caveolae
  • Extracellular ATP
  • GPCR
  • Lipid rafts
  • Membrane microdomains
  • Purinergic receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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