The VGF-derived Peptide TLQP21 Impairs Purinergic Control of Chemotaxis and Phagocytosis in Mouse Microglia

Nirmeen Elmadany, Felipe de Almeida Sassi, Stefan Wendt, Francesca Logiacco, Josien Visser, Verena Haage, Daniel Perez Hernandez, Philipp Mertins, Dolores Hambardzumyan, Susanne Wolf, Helmut Kettenmann, Marcus Semtner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3320-3331
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • C1qBP
  • C3aR1
  • Microglia
  • Purinergic signaling
  • TLQP21
  • VGF


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