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Neuroscience. 2008 Feb 6;151(3):901-12. Epub 2007 Nov 29.

Calcium-signaling networks in olfactory receptor neurons.

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Department of Molecular Physiology, Institute of Zoology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 230, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The olfactory neuroepithelium represents a unique interface between the brain and the external environment. Olfactory function comprises a distinct set of molecular tasks: sensory signal transduction, cytoprotection and adult neurogenesis. A multitude of biochemical studies has revealed the central role of Ca(2+) signaling in the function of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). We set out to establish Ca(2+)-dependent signaling networks in ORN cilia by proteomic analysis. We subjected a ciliary membrane preparation to Ca(2+)/calmodulin-affinity chromatography using mild detergent conditions in order to maintain functional protein complexes involved in olfactory Ca(2+) signaling. Thus, calmodulin serves as a valuable tool to gain access to novel Ca(2+)-regulated protein complexes. Tandem mass spectrometry (nanoscale liquid-chromatography-electrospray injection) identified 123 distinct proteins. Ninety-seven proteins (79%) could be assigned to specific olfactory functions, including 32 to sensory signal transduction and 40 to cytoprotection. We point out novel perspectives for research on the Ca(2+)-signaling networks in the olfactory system of the rat.

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