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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Purinergic receptor antagonists inhibit odorant-mediated CREB phosphorylation in sustentacular cells of mouse olfactory epithelium

Ruth Dooley1, Anastasia Mashukova2, Bastian Toetter3, Hanns Hatt4 and Eva M Neuhaus3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

2 Department of Physiology, College of Medical Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, FL 33328, USA

3 NeuroScience Research Center, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany

4 Department of Cell Physiology, Universitätsstrasse 150, 44780 Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany

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BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:86  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-86

Published: 22 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Extracellular nucleotides have long been known to play neuromodulatory roles and to be involved in intercellular signalling. In the olfactory system, ATP is released by olfactory neurons, and exogenous ATP can evoke an increase in intracellular calcium concentration in sustentacular cells, the nonneuronal supporting cells of the olfactory epithelium. Here we investigate the hypothesis that olfactory neurons communicate with sustentacular cells via extracellular ATP and purinergic receptor activation.

Results

Here we show that exposure of mice to a mixture of odorants induced a significant increase in the levels of the transcription factor CREB phosphorylated at Ser-133 in the nuclei of both olfactory sensory neurons and sustentacular cells. This activation was dependent on adenylyl cyclase III-mediated olfactory signaling and on activation of P2Y purinergic receptors on sustentacular cells. Purinergic receptor antagonists inhibited odorant-dependent CREB phosphorylation specifically in the nuclei of the sustentacular cells.

Conclusion

Our results point to a possible role for extracellular nucleotides in mediating intercellular communication between the neurons and sustentacular cells of the olfactory epithelium in response to odorant exposure. Maintenance of extracellular ionic gradients and metabolism of noxious chemicals by sustentacular cells may therefore be regulated in an odorant-dependent manner by olfactory sensory neurons.