Navigation Links
Mice use specialized neurons to detect carbon dioxide in the air

For mice, carbon dioxide often means danger - too many animals breathing in too small a space or a hungry predator exhaling nearby. Mice have a way of detecting carbon dioxide, and new research from Rockefeller University shows that a special set of olfactory neurons is involved, a finding that may have implications for how predicted increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide may affect animal behavior. The finding is reported in the August 17 issue of the journal Science.

Most olfactory sensory neurons express odorant receptor molecules and reside within the lining of the nasal cavity that detect odors. But a small subset express an enzyme called guanylyl cyclase-D (GC-D). Peter Mombaerts, professor and head of the Laboratory of Developmental Biology and Neurogenetics at Rockefeller, and Andreas Walz, a research associate in Mombaerts' lab, created a strain of mice in which GC-D expressing neurons glow with a green fluorescent protein. These GC-D expressing neurons also project their nerve endings to an unusual structure in the back of the olfactory bulb called necklace glomeruli, which resemble a string of beads.

The Rockefeller team's collaborators in China, led by Minmin Luo at the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, found that all the GC-D expressing neurons in the olfactory epithelium were activated by exposure to carbon dioxide. Conversely, all the cells in the lining of the nasal cavity that were activated by carbon dioxide are the GC-expressing neurons.

"These findings show that a specialized subsystem has evolved in the mouse to detect carbon dioxide," says Mombaerts.

Carbon dioxide makes up about four-hundredths of one percent of the atmosphere. To determine the threshold for carbon dioxide detection in the mouse, the Beijing team trained mice to lick water when they received a whiff of air with higher levels of carbon dioxide. As the amount of carbon dioxide in the whiffs of air was decreased, the accuracy of the animals' response became random. Statistical analysis fixed the threshold for detection at about six-hundredths of a percent, just above the average atmospheric level.

Mombaerts cautions that scientists still do not know if the GC-D enzyme is responsible for detecting carbon dioxide. "GC-D is a marker for the neurons that have specific carbon dioxide sensitivity," Mombaerts says. "At this time, we have not shown that the marker is mechanistically involved in sensory perception of carbon dioxide." The research does, however, suggest that scientists need to be on the lookout for behavioral changes in animals as carbon dioxide levels increase in the atmosphere, since, at some point increased levels may be detectable by animals, Mombaerts says.

"Animals may adapt to this gradual and persistent increase. Alternatively, the change may induce behavioral changes, such as an increase in irritability and aggression or a decrease in fertility," he says.


Contact: Zach Veilleux
Rockefeller University

Related biology news :

1. UCSD team discovers specialized, rare heart stem cells in newborns
2. Migratory songbirds have a specialized night-vision brain area
3. Specialized immune-system B cells play double-barreled role
4. Biologists Crack Genetic Code for Specialized Spider Silk
5. First real-time view of developing neurons reveals surprises, say Stanford researchers
6. One gene links newborn neurons with those that die in diseases such as Alzheimers
7. Researchers make surprise discovery that some neurons can transmit three signals at once
8. Speak up: Louder neurons form more connections
9. Most important actors in the growth process of neurons identified
10. Eating, body weight regulated by specific neurons
11. New neurons take baby steps in the adult brain
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/4/2015)... 4, 2015 --> ... published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security Solutions Market - ... 2015 - 2022", the global home security solutions market is expected ... 2022. The market is estimated to expand at a ... to 2022. Rising security needs among customers at homes, ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced an ... its DNA library preparation products, including the ThruPLEX ... Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized for ... libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free circulating ... in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific is ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Germany , October 27, 2015 ... SMI,s Automated Semantic Gaze Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically maps ... SMI,s Eye Tracking Glasses , so that they ... BeGaze. --> Munich, Germany , ... (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... MUMBAI , November 26, 2015 ... --> Accutest Research ... accredited Contract Research Organization (CRO), has ... Chase Cancer Center - Temple Health ... ,     (Photo: ) ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Studies reveal the ... plaque and pave the way for more effective treatment for ...     --> --> ... health problems in cats, yet relatively little was understood about ... studies have been conducted by researchers from the WALTHAM Centre ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... in a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December ... .  A replay will be available for 14 ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: ... speaking at the following conference, and invited investors to ... NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 ... NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 ... Conference, New York, NY      Tuesday, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: