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Molecular components of signal amplification in olfactory sensory cilia

Thomas Hengl, Hiroshi Kaneko, Kristin Dauner, Kerstin Vocke, Stephan Frings, Frank Möhrlen and Lily Y. Jan
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 107, No. 13 (March 30, 2010), pp. 6052-6057
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25665113
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Molecular components of signal amplification in olfactory sensory cilia
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Abstract

The mammalian olfactory system detects an unlimited variety of odorants with a limited set of odorant receptors. To cope with the complexity of the odor world, each odorant receptor must detect many different odorants. The demand for low odor selectivity creates problems for the transduction process: the initial transduction step, the synthesis of the second messenger cAMP, operates with low efficiency, mainly because odorants bind only briefly to their receptors. Sensory cilia of olfactory receptor neurons have developed an unusual solution to this problem. They accumulate chloride ions at rest and discharge a chloride current upon odor detection. This chloride current amplifies the receptor potential and promotes electrical excitation. We have studied this amplification process by examining identity, subcellular localization, and regulation of its molecular components. We found that the Na⁺/K⁺/2Cl⁻ cotransporter NKCC1 is expressed in the ciliary membrane, where it mediates chloride accumulation into the ciliary lumen. Gene silencing experiments revealed that the activity of this transporter depends on the kinases SPAK and OSR1, which are enriched in the cilia together with their own activating kinases, WNK1 and WNK4. A second Cl⁻ transporter, the Cl⁻/HCO₃⁻ exchanger SLC4A1, is expressed in the cilia and may support Cl⁻ accumulation. The calcium-dependent chloride channel TMEM16B (ANO2) provides a ciliary pathway for the excitatory chloride current. These findings describe a specific set of ciliary proteins involved in anion-based signal amplification. They provide a molecular concept for the unique strategy that allows olfactory sensory neurons to operate as efficient transducers of weak sensory stimuli.

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