P2 receptors in the peripheral and central nervous system are targets of extracellular nucleotides such as ATP/ADP and UTP/UDP. P2X and/or P2Y receptors appear to play previously unappreciated but important roles in the pathogenesis of diseases such as neuropathic pain, retinal damage, neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.
Our consortium, located at the Universität Leipzig together with satellite projects at the University of Aachen and the Max-Delbrück-Centre in Berlin, investigates the specific relevance of ligand-gated P2X and G protein-coupled P2Y receptors at neurons and glial cells.
The projects specifically address questions about the structure, assembly, signal transduction pathways and interaction mechanisms of these receptors but also their interplay with enzymes regulating the nucleotide turnover. Gene-deficient mouse models for P2X and P2Y receptors and BAC transgenic reporter mice are central tools and are analyzed by concerted efforts of our consortium. The competence in the P2 receptor field, specifically in studying their function in sensory neurons, astrocytes, Müller cells and microglia, is complemented by molecular pharmacology and structural biology approaches. This unique concentration of multiple expertises will provide a comprehensive understanding of the molecular and in vivo functions of the highly relevant group of nucleotide receptors. Further, the Research Unit will be a nationwide crystallization point for coordinating German P2 receptor research.
The Research Unit has the following general aims: