Neural encoding in orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala during olfactory discrimination learning.
Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is part of a network of structures involved in adaptive behavior and decision making. Interconnections between OFC and basolateral amygdala (ABL) may be critical for encoding the motivational significance of stimuli used to guide behavior. Indeed, much research indicates that neurons in OFC and ABL fire selectively to cues based on their associative significance. In the current study recordings were made in each region within a behavioral paradigm that allowed comparison of the development of associative encoding over the course of learning. In each recording session, rats were presented with novel odors that were informative about the outcome of making a response and had to learn to withhold a response after sampling an odor that signaled a negative outcome. In some cases, reversal training was performed in the same session as the initial learning. Ninety-six of the 328 neurons recorded in OFC and 60 of the 229 neurons recorded in ABL exhibited selective activity during evaluation of the odor cues after learning had occurred. A substantial proportion of those neurons in ABL developed selective activity very early in training, and many reversed selectivity rapidly after reversal. In contrast, those neurons in OFC rarely exhibited selective activity during odor evaluation before the rats reached the criterion for learning, and far fewer reversed selectivity after reversal. The findings support a model in which ABL encodes the motivational significance of cues and OFC uses this information in the selection and execution of an appropriate behavioral strategy. (+info)
Quantitative structure-activity relationships for nasal pungency thresholds of volatile organic compounds.
A model was developed for describing the triggering of nasal pungency in humans, based on the partition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) between the air phase and the biophase. Two partition parameters are used in the model: the water-air partition coefficient and the octanol-water partition coefficient. The model was validated using data from the literature, principally on alcohols, acetates and ketones. The model suggests that all test compounds, regardless of their chemical functional groups, bind to a common receptor site within the hydrophobic interior of the bilayer membrane of the trigeminal nerve endings. There is probably only a slight, non-specific interaction between the VOC molecule and the receptor molecule, whereas this type of non-specific interaction for the detection of odor is much stronger. In practical terms, the suggestion that all VOCs share a common irritation receptor site implies that nasal-pungency thresholds of individual VOCs may be additive. Quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) for nasal-pungency thresholds were also developed from the model, which can be used to predict nasal-pungency thresholds of common VOCs. Although the present model does not offer additional precision over that of M.H. Abraham et al., 1996, Fundam. Appl. Toxicol. 31, 71-76, it requires fewer descriptors and offers a physiological basis to the QSAR. Another advantage of the present model is that it also provides a basis for comparison between the olfactory process and nasal pungency. (+info)
A novel family of divergent seven-transmembrane proteins: candidate odorant receptors in Drosophila.
Although insects have proven to be valuable models for exploring the function, organization, and development of the olfactory system, the receptor molecules that bind odors have not been identified in any insect. We have developed a novel search algorithm, used it to search the Drosophila genomic sequence database, and identified a large multigene family encoding seven transmembrane domain proteins that are expressed in olfactory organs. We show that expression is restricted to subsets of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) for a number of these genes. Different members of the family initiate expression at different times during antennal development. Some of the genes are not expressed in a mutant of the Acj6 POU-domain transcription factor, a mutant in which a subset of ORNs show abnormal odorant specificities. (+info)
The odor specificities of a subset of olfactory receptor neurons are governed by Acj6, a POU-domain transcription factor.
Little is known about how the odor specificities of olfactory neurons are generated, a process essential to olfactory coding. We have found that neuronal identity relies on the abnormal chemosensory jump 6 (acj6) gene, originally identified by a defect in olfactory behavior. Physiological analysis of individual olfactory neurons shows that in acj6 mutants, a subset of neurons acquires a different odorant response profile. Certain other neurons do not respond to any tested odors in acj6. Molecular analysis of acj6 shows that it encodes a POU-domain transcription factor expressed in olfactory neurons. Our data suggest that the odor response spectrum of an olfactory neuron, and perhaps the choice of receptor genes, is determined through a process requiring the action of Acj6. (+info)
Crossmodal associative memory representations in rodent orbitofrontal cortex.
Firing patterns of neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex (OF) were analyzed in rats trained to perform a task that encouraged incidental associations between distinct odors and the places where their occurrence was detected. Many of the neurons fired differentially when the animals were at a particular location or sampled particular odors. Furthermore, a substantial fraction of the cells exhibited odor-specific firing patterns prior to odor presentation, when the animal arrived at a location associated with that odor. These findings suggest that neurons in the OF encode cross-modal associations between odors and locations within long-term memory. (+info)
Combinatorial receptor codes for odors.
The discriminatory capacity of the mammalian olfactory system is such that thousands of volatile chemicals are perceived as having distinct odors. Here we used a combination of calcium imaging and single-cell RT-PCR to identify odorant receptors (ORs) for odorants with related structures but varied odors. We found that one OR recognizes multiple odorants and that one odorant is recognized by multiple ORs, but that different odorants are recognized by different combinations of ORs. Thus, the olfactory system uses a combinatorial receptor coding scheme to encode odor identities. Our studies also indicate that slight alterations in an odorant, or a change in its concentration, can change its "code," potentially explaining how such changes can alter perceived odor quality. (+info)
Functional identification and reconstitution of an odorant receptor in single olfactory neurons.
The olfactory system is remarkable in its capacity to discriminate a wide range of odorants through a series of transduction events initiated in olfactory receptor neurons. Each olfactory neuron is expected to express only a single odorant receptor gene that belongs to the G protein coupled receptor family. The ligand-receptor interaction, however, has not been clearly characterized. This study demonstrates the functional identification of olfactory receptor(s) for specific odorant(s) from single olfactory neurons by a combination of Ca2+-imaging and reverse transcription-coupled PCR analysis. First, a candidate odorant receptor was cloned from a single tissue-printed olfactory neuron that displayed odorant-induced Ca2+ increase. Next, recombinant adenovirus-mediated expression of the isolated receptor gene was established in the olfactory epithelium by using green fluorescent protein as a marker. The infected neurons elicited external Ca2+ entry when exposed to the odorant that originally was used to identify the receptor gene. Experiments performed to determine ligand specificity revealed that the odorant receptor recognized specific structural motifs within odorant molecules. The odorant receptor-mediated signal transduction appears to be reconstituted by this two-step approach: the receptor screening for given odorant(s) from single neurons and the functional expression of the receptor via recombinant adenovirus. The present approach should enable us to examine not only ligand specificity of an odorant receptor but also receptor specificity and diversity for a particular odorant of interest. (+info)
Potential for reduction of odorous compounds in swine manure through diet modification.
Recent public concern about air pollution from pork production units has prompted more research to develop methods to reduce and control odors. Masking agents, enzymes and bacterial preparations, feed additives, chemicals, oxidation processes, air scrubbers, biofilters, and new ventilation systems have been studied. Research relating the effects of the swine diet on manure odors has been scarce. Introducing feed additives to bind ammonia, change digesta pH, affect specific enzyme activity, and mask odors has been either costly or not consistently successful. Recent research emphasis has focused on manipulating the diet 1) to increase the nutrient utilization of the diet to reduce excretion products, 2) to enhance microbial metabolism in the lower digestive tract to reduce excretion of odor-causing compounds, and 3) to change the physical characteristics of urine and feces to reduce odor emissions. Primary odor-causing compounds evolve from excess degradable proteins and lack of specific fermentable carbohydrates during microbial fermentation. Reductions in ammonia emissions by 28 to 79% through diet modifications have been reported. Limited research on reduction of other odorous volatile organic compounds through diet modifications is promising. Use of synthetic amino acids with reduced intact protein levels in diets significantly reduces nitrogen excretions and odor production. Addition of nonstarch polysaccharides and specific oligosaccharides further alters the pathway of nitrogen excretion and reduces odor emission. Continued nutritional and microbial research to incorporate protein degradation products, especially sulfur-containing organics, with fermentable carbohydrates in the lower gastrointestinal tract of pigs will further control odors from manure. (+info)