Findings help researchers revise models of mammalian sense of smell
Composite of olfactory neuron response to lyral odor. The background shows intact olfactory neuroepithelium containing MOR23 cells tagged with GFP (green fluorescent protein). The right upper corner shows dendritic knob and cilia from a single MOR23 neuron. The left lower corner shows the electrical responses over time of a single MOR23 cell to lyral, the ligand for MOR23, at different concentrations. (Credit: Xavier Grosmaitre and Minghong Ma, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine)
In a mouse model, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers discovered that olfactory sensory neurons expressing the same receptor responded to a specific odor with an array of speeds and sensitivities, a phenomenon previously not detected in the mammalian sense of smell. The group published their findings this week in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We assumed that the sensory neurons that express the same receptor would respond to a specific odor in the same way," says senior author Minghong Ma, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Penn. "But in real biology, these olfactory neurons keep regenerating, and even though they all express the same receptor, theyre probably at different states of maturation, displaying different qualities. By knowing that olfactory neurons can respond differently, were adding another layer to understanding how the olfactory system receives outside information."
Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
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