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J Neurophysiol. 1999 Jun;81(6):2675-82.

Both external and internal calcium reduce the sensitivity of the olfactory cyclic-nucleotide-gated channel to CAMP.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0521, USA.


In vertebrate olfaction, odorous stimuli are first transduced into an electrical signal in the cilia of olfactory receptor neurons. Many odorants cause an increase in ciliary cAMP, which gates cationic channels in the ciliary membrane. The resulting influx of Ca2+ and Na+ produces a depolarizing receptor current. Modulation of the cyclic-nucleotide-gated (CNG) channels is one mechanism of adjusting olfactory sensitivity. Modulation of these channels by divalent cations was studied by patch-clamp recording from single cilia of frog olfactory receptor neurons. In accord with previous reports, it was found that cytoplasmic Ca2+ above 1 microM made the channels less sensitive to cAMP. The effect of cytoplasmic Ca2+ was eliminated by holding the cilium in a divalent-free cytoplasmic solution and was restored by adding calmodulin (CaM). An unexpected result was that external Ca2+ could also greatly reduce the sensitivity of the channels to cAMP. This reduction was seen when external Ca2+ exceeded 30 microM and was not affected by the divalent-free solution, by CaM, or by Ca2+ buffering. The effects of cytoplasmic and external Ca2+ were additive. Thus the effects of cytoplasmic and external Ca2+ are apparently mediated by different mechanisms. There was no effect of CaM on a Ca2+-activated Cl- current that also contributes to the receptor current. Increases in Ca2+ concentration on either side of the ciliary membrane may influence olfactory adaptation.

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