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J Exp Biol. 1995;198(Pt 3):821-9.

Nitric oxide synthesis in locust olfactory interneurones


The brain of the locust Schistocerca gregaria contains a nitric oxide synthase (NOS) that has similar properties to mammalian neuronal NOS. It catalyses the production of equimolar quantities of nitric oxide (NO) and citrulline from l-arginine in a Ca2+/calmodulin- and NADPH-dependent manner and is inhibited by the Nomega-nitro and Nomega-monomethyl analogues of l-arginine. In Western blots, an antiserum to the 160 kDa rat cerebellar NOS subunit recognises a locust brain protein with a molecular mass of approximately 135 kDa. NOS is located in several parts of the locust brain, including the mushroom bodies, but it is particularly abundant in the olfactory processing centres, the antennal lobes. Here it is present in two groups of local interneurones (a pair and a cluster of about 50) that project into the neuropile of the antennal lobes. The processes of these neurones terminate in numerous glomerulus-like structures where the synapses between primary olfactory receptor neurones and central interneurones are formed. NOS-containing local interneurones have also been identified in the mammalian olfactory bulb, suggesting that NO performs analogous functions in locust and mammalian olfactory systems. As yet, nothing is known about the role of NO in olfaction, but it seems likely that it is involved in the processing of chemosensory input to the brain. The locust antennal lobe may be an ideal 'simple' system in which this aspect of NO function can be examined.

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