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J Neurophysiol. 2000 Jan;83(1):501-12.

Amplification of odor-induced Ca(2+) transients by store-operated Ca(2+) release and its role in olfactory signal transduction.

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Department of Anatomy, Program in Neuroscience, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


A critical role of Ca(2+) in vertebrate olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) is to couple odor-induced excitation to intracellular feedback pathways that are responsible for the regulation of the sensitivity of the sense of smell, but the role of intracellular Ca(2+) stores in this process remains unclear. Using confocal Ca(2+) imaging and perforated patch recording, we show that salamander ORNs contain a releasable pool of Ca(2+) that can be discharged at rest by the SERCA inhibitor thapsigargin and the ryanodine receptor agonist caffeine. The Ca(2+) stores are spatially restricted; emptying produces compartmentalized Ca(2+) release and capacitative-like Ca(2+) entry in the dendrite and soma but not in the cilia, the site of odor transduction. We deplete the stores to show that odor stimulation causes store-dependent Ca(2+) mobilization. This odor-induced Ca(2+) release does not seem to be necessary for generation of an immediate electrophysiological response, nor does it contribute significantly to the Ca(2+) transients in the olfactory cilia. Rather, it is important for amplifying the magnitude and duration of Ca(2+) transients in the dendrite and soma and is thus necessary for the spread of an odor-induced Ca(2+) wave from the cilia to the soma. We show that this amplification process depends on Ca(2+)-induced Ca(2+) release. The results indicate that stimulation of ORNs with odorants can produce Ca(2+) mobilization from intracellular stores without an immediate effect on the receptor potential. Odor-induced, store-dependent Ca(2+) mobilization may be part of a feedback pathway by which information is transferred from the distal dendrite of an ORN to its soma.

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