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Neuron. 2003 Oct 30;40(3):551-61.

A diacylglycerol-gated cation channel in vomeronasal neuron dendrites is impaired in TRPC2 mutant mice: mechanism of pheromone transduction.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


Vomeronasal sensory neurons play a crucial role in detecting pheromones, but the chemoelectrical transduction mechanism remains unclear and controversial. A major barrier to the resolution of this question has been the lack of an activation mechanism of a key transduction component, the TRPC2 channel. We have identified a Ca(2+)-permeable cation channel in vomeronasal neuron dendrites that is gated by the lipid messenger diacylglycerol (DAG), independently of Ca(2+) or protein kinase C. We demonstrate that ablation of the TRPC2 gene causes a severe deficit in the DAG-gated channel, indicating that TRPC2 encodes a principal subunit of this channel and that the primary electrical response to pheromones depends on DAG but not Ins(1,4,5)P(3), Ca(2+) stores, or arachidonic acid. Thus, a previously unanticipated mechanism involving direct channel opening by DAG underlies the transduction of sensory cues in the accessory olfactory system.

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