Odorant stimulation of receptor cells results in a calcium influx that activates the transduction pathway. Ca2+ acceptors, such as calmodulin, may mediate between the change in intracellular calcium and the conductance mechanism underlying the initial electrical event. Ca2+ acceptors also may participate in subsequent processing of olfactory information. The identification and characterization of these molecules, therefore, should provide important information about the complex signal transduction pathway involving calcium in olfaction as well as other sensory systems.
The present study describes the distribution of six calcium-binding proteins in the rat main olfactory epithelium during postnatal development to determine when different Ca2+ acceptors can be detected and whether they segregate into different layers or p6 rtions of the epithelium. Calmodulin, calretinin, calbindin-D28k, neurocalcin, and recoverin were detected immunohistochemically in olfactory receptors but not in basal cells. S-100 immunoreactivity was restricted to glial cells primarily around the cribriform plate. During postnatal development (from P1 to P20), calmodulin, calretinin, calbindin-D28k, and neurocalcin formed a gradient of immunoreactivity descending from the central to the lateral areas in the nasal cavity, whereas recoverin was expressed only in sporadic, mature receptors in the proximal region of the mucosa. At P20, the immunoreactivity pattern for each calcium-binding protein was identical to the adult profile, indicating that the olfactory epithelium had reached maturity by this stage. Olfactory nerve fiber bundles displayed a differential staining pattern from P 1 until adulthood for calbindin-D28k and calretinin (internal portions of bundles). Differential calmodulin immunoreactivity of olfactory nerves (large external portions of bundles) appeared at P10. The immunoreactivity of the nerve fiber bundles may reflect a further degree of organization relevant to odor discrimination. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.