A Special Sense of Smell

Science's STKE  05 Sep 2000:
Vol. 2000, Issue 48, pp. tw3
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2000.48.tw3

The vomeronasal organ of mammals is a specialized structure in the nose that deals with the detection of pheromones. Little is known how vomeronasal neurons react to natural stimuli and how they code their information for transmission to higher processing areas in the brain. Holy et al. simultaneously recorded from a large number of mouse vomeronasal neurons and found that these cells responded to highly diluted components found in the urine of mice. Many individual neurons were highly selective for either male or female urine. Their activation required the recruitment of an intracellular signaling cascade involving phospholipase C. Unlike most sensory neurons, vomeronasal neurons did not adapt when exposed to a stimulus for a long time.

Holy, T.E., Dulac, C., and Meister, M. (2000) Responses of vomeronasal neurons to natural stimuli. Science 289:1569-1572. [Abstract] [Full Text]