The mechanism by which the individual odor signals are translated into the perception of smell in the brain is unknown. The signal processing occurs in the olfactory system which has three major components: olfactory neuroepithelium, olfactory bulb, and olfactory cortex. The neuroepithelial layer is composed of ciliated sensory neurons interspersed among supportive cells. The sensory neurons are the sites of odor transduction, a process that converts the odor signal into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is subsequently received by the neurons of the olfactory bulb, which process the signal and then relay it to the olfactory cortex in the brain. Apart from information about certain biochemical steps of odor transduction, there is almost no knowledge about the means by which the olfactory bulb and cortical neurons process this information. Through biochemical, functional, and immunohistochemical approaches, this study shows the presence of a Ca2+-modulated membrane guanylate cyclase (mGC) transduction system in the bulb portion of the olfactory system. The mGC is ROS-GC1. This is coexpressed with its specific modulator, guanylate cyclase activating protein type 1 (GCAP1), in the mitral cells. Thus, a new facet of the Ca2+-modulated GCAP1-ROS-GC1 signaling system, which, until now, was believed to be unique to phototransduction, has been revealed. The findings suggest a novel role for this system in the polarization and depolarization phenomena of mitral cells and also contradict the existing belief that no mGC besides GC-D exists in the olfactory neurons.
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