Modulation of P2X3 and P2X2/3 Receptors by Monoclonal Antibodies
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Purinergic homomeric P2X3 and heteromeric P2X2/3 receptors are ligand-gated cation channels activated by ATP. Both receptors are predominantly expressed in nociceptive sensory neurons and an increase in extracellular ATP concentration under pathological conditions such as tissue damage or visceral distension induces channel opening, membrane depolarization and initiation of pain signaling. Hence these receptors are considered important therapeutic targets for pain management and development of selective antagonists is currently progressing. To advance the search for novel analgesics, we have generated a panel of monoclonal antibodies directed against hP2X3. We have found that these antibodies produce distinct functional effects depending on the homomeric or heteromeric composition of the target, its kinetic state and the duration of antibody exposure. The most potent antibody, 12D4, showed an estimated IC50 of 16 nM on hP2X3 after short-term exposure (up to 18 minutes), binding to the inactivated state of the channel to inhibit activity. By contrast, with the same short-term application, 12D4 potentiated the slow inactivating current mediated by the heteromeric hP2X2/3 channel. Extending the duration of exposure to approximately 20 hours resulted in a profound inhibition of both homomeric hP2X3 and heteromeric hP2X2/3 receptors, an effect mediated by efficient antibody-induced internalization of the channel from the plasma membrane. The therapeutic potential of mAb12D4 was assessed in the formalin, CFA and visceral pain models. The efficacy of 12D4 in the visceral hypersensitivity model indicates that antibodies against P2X3 may have therapeutic potential in visceral pain indications.