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PLoS One. 2010 Jul 30;5(7):e11924. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011924.

Chemoreception regulates chemical access to mouse vomeronasal organ: role of solitary chemosensory cells.

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.

Abstract

Controlling stimulus access to sensory organs allows animals to optimize sensory reception and prevent damage. The vomeronasal organ (VNO) detects pheromones and other semiochemicals to regulate innate social and sexual behaviors. This semiochemical detection generally requires the VNO to draw in chemical fluids, such as bodily secretions, which are complex in composition and can be contaminated. Little is known about whether and how chemical constituents are monitored to regulate the fluid access to the VNO. Using transgenic mice and immunolabeling, we found that solitary chemosensory cells (SCCs) reside densely at the entrance duct of the VNO. In this region, most of the intraepithelial trigeminal fibers innervate the SCCs, indicating that SCCs relay sensory information onto the trigeminal fibers. These SCCs express transient receptor potential channel M5 (TRPM5) and the phospholipase C (PLC) beta2 signaling pathway. Additionally, the SCCs express choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) for synthesizing and packaging acetylcholine, a potential transmitter. In intracellular Ca2+ imaging, the SCCs responded to various chemical stimuli including high concentrations of odorants and bitter compounds. The responses were suppressed significantly by a PLC inhibitor, suggesting involvement of the PLC pathway. Further, we developed a quantitative dye assay to show that the amount of stimulus fluid that entered the VNOs of behaving mice is inversely correlated to the concentration of odorous and bitter substances in the fluid. Genetic knockout and pharmacological inhibition of TRPM5 resulted in larger amounts of bitter compounds entering the VNOs. Our data uncovered that chemoreception of fluid constituents regulates chemical access to the VNO and plays an important role in limiting the access of non-specific irritating and harmful substances. Our results also provide new insight into the emerging role of SCCs in chemoreception and regulation of physiological actions.

PMID:
20689832
PMCID:
PMC2912856
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0011924
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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