Altered donor P2X7 activity in human leukocytes correlates with P2RX7 genotype but does not affect the development of graft-versus-host disease in humanised mice
Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a life-threatening consequence of allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation, a curative therapy for haematological malignancies. The ATP-gated P2X7 receptor channel is implicated in the development of GVHD. P2X7 activity on human leukocytes can be influenced by gain-of-function (GOF) and loss-of-function (LOF) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the P2RX7 gene. In this study, the P2RX7 gene was sequenced in 25 human donors and the P2X7 activity on subsets of peripheral blood T cells, natural killer (NK) cells and monocytes was measured using an ATP-induced dye uptake assay. GOF and LOF SNPs representing 10 of the 17 known P2RX7 haplotypes were identified, and correlated with P2X7 activity on all leukocyte subsets investigated. Notably, invariant (i) NK T cells displayed the highest P2X7 activity amongst all cell types studied. To determine if donor P2X7 activity influenced the development of GVHD, immunodeficient NOD-SCID-IL2Rγ null (NSG) mice were injected with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from donors of either GOF (hP2X7 GOF mice) or LOF (hP2X7 LOF mice) P2RX7 genotype. Both hP2X7 GOF and hP2X7 LOF mice demonstrated similar human leukocyte engraftment, and showed comparable weight loss, GVHD clinical score and overall survival. Donor P2X7 activity did not affect human leukocyte infiltration or GVHD-mediated tissue damage, or the relative expression of human P2X7 or human interferon-γ (hIFNγ) in tissues. Finally, hP2X7 GOF and hP2X7 LOF mice demonstrated similar concentrations of serum hIFNγ. This study demonstrates that P2X7 activity correlates with donor P2RX7 genotype on human leukocyte subsets important in GVHD development, but does not affect GVHD development in a humanised mouse model of this disease.