An Essential and Synergistic Role of Purinergic Signaling in Guided Migration of Corneal Epithelial Cells in Physiological Electric Fields

Ken Ichi Nakajima, Makiko Tatsumi, Min Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND/AIMS: Directional migration of corneal epithelial cells is essential for healing of corneal wounds, which is a robust response mediated by biochemical and bioelectrical cues. Naturally occurring electric fields at corneal wounds provide a powerful guidance cue for directional cell migration, as does extracellular ATP. Our recent large-scale siRNA library screening identified a role for purinergic signaling in the electric field-guided migration (galvanotaxis/electrotaxis) of human corneal epithelial (hTCEpi) cells. METHODS: We examined the effect of extracellular ATP on galvanotaxis of hTCEpi cells. Galvanotactic cell migration was recorded by video microscopy, and directedness and migration speed was calculated. The role of purinergic receptors in galvanotaxis regulation was evaluated by pharmacological inhibition or knocking down of P2X and P2Y receptors. RESULTS: Addition of ATP enhanced galvanotaxis, and most remarkably sensitized galvanotaxis response to very low level of electric fields in the physiological range (10-30 mV/mm). The stimulatory effect of extracellular ATP was diminished by apyrase treatment. Importantly, cells stimulated with extracellular ATP migrated with significantly increased directedness and speed, which were diminished by knocking down or pharmacological inhibition of P2X and P2Y receptors. Inhibition of pannexin-1 (ATP permeable channel) significantly impaired galvanotaxis. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of ectoATPase enhanced galvanotaxis. CONCLUSION: Extracellular ATP and physiological electric fields synergistically enhanced the galvanotaxis response of hTCEpi cells. hTCEpi cells are likely to secrete ATP actively, and purinergic signaling is down-regulated by ecto-ATPases. Both P2X and P2Y receptors coordinately play a role for galvanotaxis of hTCEpi cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-211
Number of pages14
JournalCellular physiology and biochemistry : international journal of experimental cellular physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • ATP
  • Corneal epithelial cell
  • Electric field
  • Galvanotaxis
  • Purinergic signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'An Essential and Synergistic Role of Purinergic Signaling in Guided Migration of Corneal Epithelial Cells in Physiological Electric Fields'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this