Diadenosine polyphosphates are a family of naturally occurring nucleotidic compounds present in secretory vesicles together with other chemical messengers. The exocytotic release of these compounds permits them to stimulate receptors termed "purinoceptors" or "ATP receptors." Purinoceptors for nucleotides are named P2 in contrast with those sensitive to nucleosides (P1). P2 receptors are further subdivided into metabotropic P2Y receptors, further divided into 5 subtypes, and ionotropic P2X receptors, with 7 different subtypes. Diadenosine polyphosphates can activate recombinant P2Y(1), P2Y(2), and P2Y(4) and recombinant homomeric P2X(1), P2X(2), P2X(3), P2X(4), and P2X(6). Heteromeric P2X receptors change their sensitivity to diadenosine polyphosphates when co-assembly between different subunits occurs. Diadenosine polyphosphates can activate specific receptors termed dinucleotide receptors or P4 receptors, which are insensitive to other nucleosides or nucleotides. The P4 receptor is a receptor-operated Ca(2)+ channel present in rat brain synaptic terminals, stimulated by diadenosine pentaphosphate and diadenosine tetraphosphate. This receptor is strongly modulated by protein kinases A and C and protein phosphatases. The dinucleotide receptor is present in different brain areas, such as midbrain (in rat and guinea-pig), cerebellum (in guinea-pig), and cortex (in human).