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PNAS 96 (25): 14605-14610

Copyright © 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences.


Odorants induce the phosphorylation of the cAMP response element binding protein in olfactory receptor neurons

Cheil Moon*, Young-Kwan Sung*, Radhika Reddy*, and Gabriele V. Ronnett*,{dagger},{ddagger}

Departments of *Neuroscience and {dagger}Neurology, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205

Received for publication June 16, 1999.

Abstract: Although odorants are known to activate olfactory receptor neurons through cAMP, the long-term effects of odorant detection are not known. Our recent findings indicate that there is also a delayed and sustained cAMP response, with kinetics sufficient to mediate long-term cellular responses. This cAMP response is mediated by cGMP through activation of adenylyl cyclase by protein kinase G (PKG). Therefore, we investigated the ability of odorants to regulate gene expression in rat olfactory epithelium. The cAMP-responsive binding protein (CREB) is a well-characterized transcription factor regulated by cAMP. We examined CREB activity in rat olfactory epithelium and olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) after stimulation with odorants. Odorants increased levels of phosphorylated CREB in olfactory epithelium in vivo, and this increase was localized to ORNs in vitro. Incubation with 8-bromo-cGMP or sodium nitroprusside, a guanylyl cyclase activator, also increased phosphorylated CREB. In vitro, cAMP-dependent protein kinase phosphorylated CREB. In contrast, PKG failed to phosphorylate CREB directly in vitro. Our results demonstrate that the delayed odorant-induced cAMP signal activates CREB, which in turn may modulate gene expression in ORNs. In addition, cGMP indirectly affects CREB activation. This effect of cGMP on CREB activity through cAMP provides another mechanism for the modulation of CREB.

{ddagger} To whom reprint requests should be addressed. E-mail: gabriele_ronnett{at}

Edited by Solomon H. Snyder, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, and approved October 11, 1999

This paper was submitted directly (Track II) to the PNAS office.

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