TRPM7 channels in hippocampal neurons detect levels of extracellular divalent cations

Wei WL, Sun HS, Olah ME, Sun X, Czerwinska E, Czerwinski W, Mori Y, Orser BA, Xiong ZG, Jackson MF, Tymianski M, MacDonald JF. (2007) Proc Natl Acad Sci. 104(41):16323-8.


Exposure to low Ca2+ and/or Mg2+ is tolerated by cardiac myocytes, astrocytes, and neurons, but restoration to normal divalent cation levels paradoxically causes Ca2+ overload and cell death. This phenomenon has been called the “Ca2+ paradox” of ischemia-reperfusion. The mechanism by which a decrease in extracellular Ca2+ and Mg2+ is “detected” and triggers subsequent cell death is unknown. Transient periods of brain ischemia are characterized by substantial decreases in extracellular Ca2+ and Mg2+ that mimic the initial condition of the Ca2+ paradox. In CA1 hippocampal neurons, lowering extracellular divalents stimulates a nonselective cation current. We show that this current resembles TRPM7 currents in several ways. Both (i) respond to transient decreases in extracellular divalents with inward currents and cell excitation, (ii) demonstrate outward rectification that depends on the presence of extracellular divalents, (iii) are inhibited by physiological concentrations of intracellular Mg2+, (iv) are enhanced by intracellular phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2), and (v) can be inhibited by Galphaq-linked G protein-coupled receptors linked to phospholipase C beta1-induced hydrolysis of PIP2. Furthermore, suppression of TRPM7 expression in hippocampal neurons strongly depressed the inward currents evoked by lowering extracellular divalents. Finally, we show that activation of TRPM7 channels by lowering divalents significantly contributes to cell death. Together, the results demonstrate that TRPM7 contributes to the mechanism by which hippocampal neurons “detect” reductions in extracellular divalents and provide a means by which TRPM7 contributes to neuronal death during transient brain ischemia.

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