Putative odour receptors localize in cilia of olfactory receptor cells in rat and mouse: A freeze-substitution ultrastructural study

Bert Ph M. Menco, Anne M. Cunningham, Pankaj Qasba, Nina Levy, Randall R. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Two different polyclonal antibodies were raised to synthetic peptides corresponding to distinct putative odour receptors of rat and mouse. Both antibodies selectively labelled olfactory cilia as seen with cryofixation and immunogold ultrastructural procedures. Regions of the olfactory organ where label was detected were consistent with those found at LM levels. Immunopositive cells were rare; only up to about 0.4% of these receptor cells were labelled. Despite chemical, species, and topographic differences both antibodies behaved identically in their ultrastructural labelling patterns. For both antibodies, labelling was very specific for olfactory cilia; both bound amply to the thick proximal and the thinner and long distal parts of the cilia. Dendritic knobs showed little labelling if any. Dendritic receptor cell structures below the knobs, supporting cell structures, and respiratory cilia did not immunolabel. There were no obvious differences in morphology between labelled and unlabelled receptor cells and their cilia. Labelling could be followed up to a distance of about 15 μm from the knobs along the distal parts of the cilia. When labelled cells were observed, this signal was detectable in two, sometimes three, sections taken through these cells while being consistently absent in neighbouring cells. This pattern argues strongly for the specificity of the labelling. In conclusion, very few receptor cells labelled with the antibodies to putative odour receptors. Additionally the olfactory cilia, the cellular regions that first encounter odour molecules and that are thought to transduce the odorous signal, displayed the most intense labelling with both antibodies. Consequently, the results showed these cilia as having many copies of the putative receptors. Finally, similar patterns of subcellular labelling were displayed in two different species, despite the use of different antibodies. Thus, this study provides compelling evidence that the heptahelical putative odour receptors localize in the olfactory cilia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-706
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neurocytology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • General Neuroscience
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Putative odour receptors localize in cilia of olfactory receptor cells in rat and mouse: A freeze-substitution ultrastructural study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this