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Department of Molecular Physiology

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Calcium - activated chloride channels

The Calcium-activated chloride channels open when the Ca concentration in the cilia rises during odor detection. How much Ca does this channel need to open? This can be investigated by excising membrane patches from the ciliary knobs of OSNs and exposing the former internal side of the membrane to a series of solutions with different Ca concentrations. Plotting the resulting current against the Ca concentration yields a dose-response curve for the activation of these channels. This analysis shows that the channels needs about 1 ÁM Ca to open.

Our studies of these channels have shown that the density of Cl channels is about 8-fold higher than that of CNG channels in the ciliary membrane, that a distance of roughly 120 nm separates each Cl channel from the next CNG channel, and that several CNG channels, in concert, drive the activity of each Cl channel. This functional coupling of two distinct types of ion channels enables low-noise amplification of the receptor current in OSNs

 


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