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J Neurosci. 1997 Jun 1;17(11):4136-48.

Calcium entry through cyclic nucleotide-gated channels in individual cilia of olfactory receptor cells: spatiotemporal dynamics.

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Section of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Transient elevations of intracellular Ca2+ play an important role in regulating the sensitivity of olfactory transduction, but such elevations have not been demonstrated in the olfactory cilia, which are the site of primary odor transduction. To begin to understand Ca2+ signaling in olfactory cilia, we used high-resolution imaging techniques to study the Ca2+ transients that occur in salamander olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) as a result of cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) channel activation. To visualize ciliary Ca2+ signals, we loaded ORNs with the Ca2+ indicator dye Fluo-3 AM and measured fluorescence with a laser scanning confocal microscope. Application of the phosphodiesterase inhibitor IBMX increased fluorescence in the cilia and other neuronal compartments; the ciliary signal occurred first and was more transient. This signal could be abolished by lowering external Ca2+ or by applying LY83583, a potent blocker of CNG channels, indicating that Ca2+ entry through CNG channels was the primary source of fluorescence increases. Direct activation of CNG channels with low levels of 8-Br-cGMP (1 microM) led to tonic Ca2+ signals that were restricted locally to the cilia and the dendritic knob. Elevated external K+, which depolarizes cell membranes, increased fluorescence signals in the cell body and dendrite but failed to increase ciliary Ca2+ fluorescence. The results demonstrate the existence and spatiotemporal properties of Ca2+ transients in individual olfactory cilia and implicate CNG channels as a major pathway for Ca2+ entry into ORN cilia during odor transduction.

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