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Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

Impact factor: 1.660

ISSN Print: 1045-4403
ISSN Online: 2162-6502

Critical Reviews™ in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevEukaryotGeneExpr.v13.i24.160
12 pages

Multinucleated Osteoclast Formation In Vivo and In Vitro by P2X7 Receptor-Deficient Mice

Alison Gartland
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Cell Biology, Worcester, MA 01655
Katherine A. Buckley
Human Bone Cell Research Group, Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3GE, UK
Robert A. Hipskind
Institut de Genetique Moleculaire de Montpellier, UMR 5535, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 34293 Montpellier Cedex5, France
M. J. Perry
Department of Anatomy, University of Bristol Veterinary School, Southwell St, Bristol BS2 8EJ, UK
J. H. Tobias
Rheumatology Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Marlborough St, Bristol BS2 8H, UK
G. Buell
Serono, Ch. des Mines 15 bis, Geneva 20, 1211 Switzerland
I. Chessell
Neurology and Rheumatology Systems, Glaxo Wellcome, Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, Herts. SG1 2NY, UK
Wayne B. Bowler
Strakan Pharmaceuticals, Buckholm Mill Brae, Buckholm Mill, Galashiels, TD1 2HB, UK
James A. Gallagher
Human Bone Cell Research Group, Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3GE, UK


The P2X7 receptor is a member of the family of P2X purinergic receptors, which upon sustained activation forms large pores in the plasma membrane. In cells of hematopoietic origin, P2X7 receptor activation has been shown to lead to multiple downstream events, including cytokine release, cell permeabilization, and apoptosis. This receptor has also been implicated in the generation of multinucleated giant cells, polykaryons, and osteoclasts. We have recently demonstrated that a blockade of this receptor inhibits osteoclast formation in vitro; therefore, we examined mice deficient in the P2X7 receptor in the context of bone. These mice were healthy and displayed no overt skeletal problems. Furthermore, we were able to demonstrate their ability to form multinucleated cells, in particular osteoclasts, both in vivo and in vitro. We also demonstrate the ability of P2X7R–/– multinucleated osteoclasts, upon stimulation with maitotoxin (MTX), to form pores in the plasma membrane in vitro. These findings are consistent with the existence of an endogenous pore structure present in osteoclast precursor cells that can be activated either by the P2X7 receptor, or in its absence, by alternative signals to mediate fusion and pore formation. These data provide further insight into the mode of action of the P2X7 receptor.