Mechanical stimulus-evoked signal transduction between keratinocytes and sensory neurons via extracellular ATP

Yutaka Shindo, Keigo Fujita, Mari Tanaka, Hiroki Fujio, Kohji Hotta, Kotaro Oka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The skin is exposed to various external stimuli. Keratinocytes, which are the main cell type in the epidermis, interact with peripheral sensory neurons and modulate neuronal activity. Recent studies have revealed that keratinocytes play crucial roles in nociception, and that ATP is one of the main mediators of signal transduction from keratinocytes to sensory neurons. However, no quantitative cellular level analyses of ATP-mediated information flow from keratinocytes to sensory dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons have been conducted. In this study, we performed simultaneous imaging of cell surface ATP and intracellular Ca2+ signals using both iATPSnFR, a genetically encoded ATP probe localized to the outside of the cell membrane, and the Ca2+ probe, Fura-red. Upon mechanical stimulation of the keratinocyte with a glass needle, an increase in Ca2+ and ATP release were observed around the stimulated area, and these phenomena were positively correlated. In cultured DRG neurons and keratinocytes neighboring the stimulated keratinocyte, increased intracellular Ca2+ concentration and levels of cell surface ATP on the side closer to the stimulated cell were detected. The ratio of Ca2+ response to input ATP signal was significantly larger in DRG neurons than in keratinocytes. We found that DRG neurons were more sensitive to ATP than keratinocytes, and therefore, only DRG neurons responded to ATP at 1 μM or lower concentrations when in co-culture with keratinocytes. Moreover, signals caused by moderate mechanical stimulation of keratinocytes were transmitted predominantly to DRG neurons. These findings would be important in the further determination of the detailed mechanism of nociception in the epidermis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-136
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec 10


  • ATP release
  • Ca imaging
  • DRG neurons
  • Epidermis
  • Mechanical stimulus
  • iATPSnFR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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