The VGF-derived peptide TLQP21 impairs purinergic control of chemotaxis and phagocytosis in mouse microglia


  • N. Elmadany
  • F. de Almeida Sassi
  • S. Wendt
  • F. Logiacco
  • J. Visser
  • V. Haage
  • D. Perez Hernandez
  • P. Mertins
  • D. Hambardzumyan
  • S. Wolf
  • H. Kettenmann
  • M. Semtner


  • Journal of Neuroscience


  • J Neurosci 40 (17): 3320-3331


  • Microglial cells are considered as sensors of brain pathology by detecting any sign of brain lesions, infections, or dysfunction and can influence the onset and progression of neurological diseases. They are capable of sensing their neuronal environment via many different signaling molecules such as neurotransmitters, neurohormones and neuropeptides. The neuropeptide VGF has been associated with many metabolic and neurological disorders. TLQP21 is a VGF-derived peptide and has been shown to signal via C3aR1 and C1qBP receptors. The effect of TLQP21 on microglial functions in health or disease is not known. Studying microglial cells in acute brain slices, we found that TLQP21 impaired metabotropic purinergic signaling. Specifically, it attenuated the ATP-induced activation of a K(+) conductance, the UDP-stimulated phagocytic activity and the ATP dependent laser lesion-induced process outgrowth. These impairments were reversed by blocking C1qBP, but not C3aR1 receptors. While microglia in brain slices from male mice lack C3aR1 receptors, both receptors are expressed in primary cultured microglia. In addition to the negative impact on purinergic signaling, we found stimulating effects of TLQP21 in cultured microglia which were mediated by C3aR1 receptors: it directly evoked membrane currents, stimulated basal phagocytic activity, evoked intracellular Ca(2+) transient elevations and served as a chemotactic signal. We conclude that TLQP21 has differential effects on microglia depending on C3aR1 activation or C1qBP-dependent attenuation of purinergic signaling. Thus, TLQP21 can modulate the functional phenotype of microglia which may have an impact on their function in health and disease.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: The neuropeptide VGF and its peptides have been associated with many metabolic and neurological disorders. TLQP21 is a VGF-derived peptide that activates C1qBP receptors which are expressed by microglia. We show here for the first time that TLQP21 impairs P2Y-mediated purinergic signaling and related functions. These include modulation of phagocytic activity and responses to injury. As purinergic signaling is central for microglial actions in the brain, this TLQP21-mediated mechanism might regulate microglial activity in health and disease. We furthermore show that besides C1qBP, functional C3aR1 responses contribute to TLQP21 action on microglia. However, C3aR1 responses were only present in primary cultures but not in situ, suggesting that the expression of these receptors might vary between different microglial activation states.