Ectonucleotidases and Nucleotides in the Control of Neurogenesis

Nucleotides such as ATP, ADP, UTP or UDP play a major role as extracellular signal molecules in the nervous system and in other tissues. They are released from cells and exert their function via specific receptors that are either ion channels or G-protein-coupled. In recent years our research group has been placing particular emphasis on the cell biology and biochemistry of ectonucleotidases, enzymes that terminate or modulate the function of extracellular nucleotides (Abbracchio et al., 2009; Zimmermann et al., 2012). A recent development concerns the role of extracellular nucleotides and ectonucleotidases in the control of neurogenesis, the formation of new nerve and glial cells in the fetal and adult nervous system. Neural progenitor cells express both nucleotide receptors as well as ectonucleotidases (Zimmermann, 2006; 2011). The role of nucleotide receptors and the enzyme nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 2 (NTPDase2) (Shukla et al., 2005; Mishra et al., 2006) in the control of adult neurogenesis is presently investigated by Dr. Kristine Gampe and Dipl. Biol. Jennifer Stefani. Ongoing collaborations include Simon C. Robson (Harvard Medical School, ectonucleotidase transgenic animals), Peter Illes, Ute Krügel (Leipzig University, P2 receptors on stem cells, ectonucleotidases) and Christa Müller (Bonn University, inhibitors of ectonucleotidases).