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J. Biol. Chem. 276 (3): 2047-2052

© 2001 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

Odorants Stimulate the ERK/Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Pathway and Activate cAMP-response Element-mediated Transcription in Olfactory Sensory Neurons*

William C. WattDagger and Daniel R. Storm§

From the Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7280

Olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) respond acutely to volatile molecules and exhibit adaptive responses including desensitization to odorant exposure. Although mechanisms for short term adaptation have been described, there is little evidence that odorants cause long lasting, transcription-dependent changes in OSNs. Here we report that odorants stimulate cAMP-response element (CRE)-mediated transcription in OSNs through Ca2+ activation of the ERK/MAPK/p90rsk pathway. Odorant stimulation of ERK phosphorylation was ablated by inhibition of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II suggesting that odorant activation of ERK is mediated through this kinase. Moreover, a brief exposure in vivo to an odorant in vapor phase stimulated CRE-mediated gene transcription in discrete populations of OSNs. These data suggest that like central nervous system neurons, OSNs may undergo long term adaptive changes mediated through CRE-mediated transcription.

* This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grants DC04156 and NS357056.The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked "advertisement" in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

Dagger Supported by National Institutes of Health Training Grant GM07270.

§ To whom correspondence should be addressed: Dept. of Pharmacology, Mail Box 357280, Health Sciences Bldg., University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7280. Tel.: 206-543-7028; Fax: 206-616-8621; E-mail:

Copyright © 2001 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

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