Duan, SM (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Shanghai Inst Biol Sci, Inst Neurosci, Shanghai 200031, Peoples R China.,email@example.com
Microglia are highly motile cells that act as the main form of active immune defense in the central nervous system. Attracted by factors released from damaged cells, microglia are recruited towards the damaged or infected site, where they are involved in degenerative and regenerative responses and phagocytotic clearance of cell debris. ATP release from damaged neural tissues has been suggested to mediate the rapid extension of microglial process towards the site of injury. However, the mechanisms of the long-range migration of microglia remain to be clarified. Here, we found that lysosomes in microglia contain abundant ATP and exhibit Ca2+-dependent exocytosis in response to various stimuli. By establishing an efficient in vitro chemotaxis assay, we demonstrated that endogenously-released ATP from microglia triggered by local microinjection of ATP gamma S is critical for the long-range chemotaxis of microglia, a response that was significantly inhibited in microglia treated with an agent inducing lysosome osmodialysis or in cells derived from mice deficient in Rab 27a (ashen mice), a small GTPase required for the trafficking and exocytosis of secretory lysosomes. These results suggest that microglia respond to extracellular ATP by releasing ATP themselves through lysosomal exocytosis, thereby providing a positive feedback mechanism to generate a long-range extracellular signal for attracting distant microglia to migrate towards and accumulate at the site of injury.