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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Apr 1;94(7):3388-95.

A subset of olfactory neurons that selectively express cGMP-stimulated phosphodiesterase (PDE2) and guanylyl cyclase-D define a unique olfactory signal transduction pathway.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Odorant information is encoded by a series of intracellular signal transduction events thought to be mediated primarily by the second messenger cAMP. We have found a subset of olfactory neurons that express the cGMP-stimulated phosphodiesterase (PDE2) and guanylyl cyclase-D (GC-D), suggesting that cGMP in these neurons also can have an important regulatory function in olfactory signaling. PDE2 and GC-D are both expressed in olfactory cilia where odorant signaling is initiated; however, only PDE2 is expressed in axons. In contrast to most other olfactory neurons, these neurons appear to project to a distinct group of glomeruli in the olfactory bulb that are similar to the subset that have been termed "necklace glomeruli." Furthermore, this subset of neurons are unique in that they do not contain several of the previously identified components of olfactory signal transduction cascades involving cAMP and calcium, including a calcium/calmodulin-dependent PDE (PDE1C2), adenylyl cyclase III, and cAMP-specific PDE (PDE4A). Interestingly, these latter three proteins are expressed in the same neurons; however, their subcellular distribution is distinct. PDE1C2 and adenylyl cyclase III are expressed almost exclusively in the olfactory cilia whereas PDE4A is present only in the cell bodies and axons. These data strongly suggest that selective compartmentalization of different PDEs and cyclases is an important feature for the regulation of signal transduction in olfactory neurons and likely in other neurons as well. In addition, the data implies that an olfactory signal transduction pathway specifically modulated by cGMP is present in some neurons of the olfactory neuroepithelium.

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