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J Gen Physiol. 2004 Feb;123(2):99-107.

Classes and narrowing selectivity of olfactory receptor neurons of Xenopus laevis tadpoles.

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Physiologisches Institut, Universität Göttingen, Humboldtallee 23, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.


In olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) of aquatic animals amino acids have been shown to be potent stimuli. Here we report on calcium imaging experiments in slices of the olfactory mucosa of Xenopus laevis tadpoles. We were able to determine the response profiles of 283 ORNs to 19 amino acids, where one profile comprises the responses of one ORN to 19 amino acids. 204 out of the 283 response profiles differed from each other. 36 response spectra occurred more than once, i.e., there were 36 classes of ORNs identically responding to the 19 amino acids. The number of ORNs that formed a class ranged from 2 to 13. Shape and duration of amino acid-elicited [Ca2+]i transients showed a high degree of similarity upon repeated stimulation with the same amino acid. Different amino acids, however, in some cases led to clearly distinguishable calcium responses in individual ORNs. Furthermore, ORNs clearly appeared to gain selectivity over time, i.e., ORNs of later developmental stages responded to less amino acids than ORNs of earlier stages. We discuss the narrowing of ORN selectivity over stages in the context of expression of olfactory receptors.

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