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Processing of Pheromone Information


Pheromones are recieved by primary receptor neurons in the vomeronasal organ. How does the VNO translate chemical interaction between pheromones and their receptors into changes in membrane potentials and action potentials? We use a variety of electrophysiology approaches to investigate the mechanism of VNO signaling. With patch clamp whole cell, perforated patch, single cell extracellular recording, as well as electro-vomeronasogram (field potential recording), we have discovered an unusual mechanism of VNO signaling.

We found that two ion channels, a non-selective cationic channel, Trp2, and a small conductance calcium-activated potassium channel, SK3, are responsible for VNO signaling. We also found that the VNO possesses a compartmentalized ionic environment. The mucus in the VNO contains high levels of potassium. This allows potassium influx through the SK3 channels to depolarize the cell upon pheromone activation.

Model of VNO Signalling Cascade



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