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Keywords:

  • olfaction;
  • transduction;
  • humans;
  • cAMP

Abstract

Patch-clamp recordings revealed the presence of a non-desensitizing cyclic nucleotide-gated channel on human olfactory receptor neurons and a fast-desensitizing non-specific cation channel activated by nucleotides on human supporting cells. Cyclic nucleotide-gated channels on olfactory receptor neurons showed selective channel activation by cAMP (K1/2= 5 μM) and cGMP (K1/2= 2 μM), a unitary conductance of ∼20 pS, a reversal potential of single-channel currents close to 0 mV, a linear current-voltage relationship over the range of −80 to 80 mV and a strong extracellular but a weaker intracellular blocking effect of Ca2+. The channel activity outlasted the cyclic nucleotide pulses for hundreds of milliseconds when higher agonist concentrations (>50 μM cAMP) were applied. The duration of the response was longer than in cyclic nucleotide-gated channels from other species studied so far. The plateau duration and the decay remained constant for pulses with a length of 50−150 ms, whereas pulses shorter than 50 ms successively reduced the time required by shortening the plateau phase. A larger difference for the K1/2 values of cAMP (K1/2= 22 μM) and cGMP (K1/2= 2.5 μM) were found for a small group (n = 3) of cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, pointing to the selective expression of the a-subunit in a small subgroup of olfactory receptor neurons.