Highlight: Chloride increases response to pheromones and odors in mouse sensory neurons

Dec 28, 2009

The vomeronasal organ (VNO) is an odor detection system that mediates many pheromone-sensitive behaviors. Vomeronasal sensory neurons (VSNs), located in the VNO, are the initial site of interaction with odors and pheromones. How an individual VSN transduces chemical signals into electrical signals, however, has been a mystery.

In the January 2010 issue of the Journal of General Physiology, researchers from the University of Vermont show that a Ca2+ -activated chloride current contributes approximately 80% of the response to urine in mouse VSNs.

Using patch clamp recordings and whole cell recordings, the team found that that urine-induced inward current was decreased in the presence of chloride channel blockers. Furthermore, the urine-induced currents were eliminated when both extracellular Ca2+ and Na+ were removed.

The team's overall findings show that chloride acts as a major amplifier for in mouse VSNs, increasing the responsiveness to pheromones or odorants.

Explore further: Lost memories might be able to be restored, new study indicates

More information: Yang, C., and R.J. Delay. 2009. J. Gen. Physiol. doi:10.1085/jgp.200910265.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sniffing Out the Physical Condition of Conspecifics

May 07, 2009

To date, it has been unknown exactly how mammals are capable of sniffing out whether a conspecific is ill. The biologists Prof. Marc Spehr and Daniela Flügge are following a good lead. They have discovered ...

Piddling fish face off threat of competition

Dec 12, 2007

Research published today in the online open access journal, BMC Biology, shows that male tilapia fish use pheromones in their urine to fight off competitors and enforce social dominance.

Investigating the development of mechanosensitivity

May 22, 2009

Researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have gained crucial insight into how mechanosensitivity arises. By measuring electrical impulses in the sensory neurons of mice, the ...

Recommended for you

Researchers unlock mystery of skin's sensory abilities

Dec 19, 2014

Humans' ability to detect the direction of movement of stimuli in their sensory world is critical to survival. Much of this stimuli detection comes from sight and sound, but little is known about how the ...

Tackling neurotransmission precision

Dec 18, 2014

Behind all motor, sensory and memory functions, calcium ions are in the brain, making those functions possible. Yet neuroscientists do not entirely understand how fast calcium ions reach their targets inside ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.